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Public funding of AHR a step closer

27 Mar 2017

Countries that publicly fund fertility treatment have seen a number of clinical benefits as well as reduced pressure on their public health systems, a new report has found.

Commissioned by the Department of Health (DoH), the Health Research Board (HRB) evidence review is expected to inform government policy in relation to providing publicly funded fertility treatment. Ireland is one of a small number of EU countries that does not provide any publicly funded assisted human reproduction (AHR) treatment.

‘Assisted reproductive technologies: International approaches to public funding mechanisms and criteria’ looks at a number of issues, including the costs and benefits associated with the public funding of AHR internationally. The review found that in countries where public funding was contingent on restricting the number of embryos transferred in one cycle, this resulted in “a significant reduction in multiple pregnancies without a decrease in cumulative pregnancy rates, as well as millions in estimated savings to the public health system”.

There were inferred societal benefits when public funding for fertility treatment was provided, and the review found that the overall economic cost was “relatively modest”.

“Public funding for fertility treatment is seen in some countries as a social investment towards arresting the declining fertility rate and boosting the growth of future populations… The papers reviewed suggest that the overall economic cost to society is relatively modest in the context of public spending from the overall health budget.”

The report also found that countries that provided full or partial public AHR funding set clinical and social criteria, including an upper female age limit, restrictions on the number of embryos transferred or current smoking/substance abuse. The more socially derived criteria included civil or marital status, previous children and child protection.

The DoH said the review would be analysed in the context of considering options for a “potential public funding model for AHR treatment”.

Separately, officials in the DoH are also currently drafting the General Scheme of a Bill on AHR and associated research, which is expected to be completed by the end of June. This will regulate a range of practices for the first time, including: gamete and embryo donation for AHR and research; surrogacy; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of embryos; posthumous assisted reproduction; and stem cell research.

The post Public funding of AHR a step closer appeared first on Irish Medical Times.

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