Dublin MEP Frances Fitzgerald has urged that there should be public funding for IVF treatment with new figures estimating 25m Europeans are affected by infertility.
Expressing serious concern at Ireland’s record in tackling infertility issues for couples and individuals, she said: “the vast majority of EU countries fund a number of IVF sessions, whereas Ireland currently funds none.
"The European Parliament as early as 2008 called on the Member States to “ensure the right of couples to universal access to fertility treatment,” she said.
“While the Programme for Government commits to introducing a publicly funded model of care for fertility treatment, we are yet to see a timeline on this.”
She said that Irish couples and families need access to such services and treatments without delay.”
She urged Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to bring forward an outline of the scheme urgently and to implement public funding of IVF treatment without delay.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the “European Atlas of Fertility Treatment Policies” on International Human Rights Day, Ms Fitzgerald said the report highlights just how poorly Ireland is performing.
The newly launched Atlas report, published by Fertility Europe, shows Ireland comes an “abysmal” 40th place out of 43 European countries examined, coming behind Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey.
According to data from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), 25 million Europeans are affected by infertility, while worldwide one in six couples experience infertility.
The ESHRE also notes that there is a continuous increase in reported treatments and in medically assisted reproduction derived live births in Europe.
It said the reasons for difficulty in conceiving include age, pre-existing conditions, environmental and health factors amongst others.
MEP Fitzgerald said that despite Ireland making some progress on reproductive health issues in recent years, placing of 40th out of 43 among European countries examined in this landmark Fertility Atlas is very worrying but "reflective of the current situation for Irish people”.
The European Fertility Atlas is a joint project of Fertility Europe and the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. It comprises an online interactive map that scores European countries in access to fertility treatments. The Atlas represents the first deep-dive benchmarking tool analysing fertility treatments policies in Europe.
Among the criteria measured are as follows: legislation and access to InVitro Fertilisation (IVF) / IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and the patients perspective.