Two workdays, trying to learn from our Danish colleagues of the Fertility clinic at the National University Hospital in Copenhagen. The team leaded by Professor Anders Nyboe Andersen has opened their day-to-day activity to all of us. And indeed it has been a very interesting experience.
First of all, our society (as a whole) has to face a demographic challenge: total fertility rates are below the “replacement level” in most (if not all) western countries. Therefore, there is a demographic decline and, at the same time, we are going towards an elderly distribution of population.
We are not talking just about assisted but total fertility. Society in general and, specifically, policy makers should be aware of this huge problem. The financial consequences, for instance, may (will) be of paramount importance.
Concerning this issue, assisted reproduction treatments (ART) provides a small but important contribution in order to increase the birth rates. In some countries, as in Denmark, 8% of children are born after pregnancies achieved thanks to ART.
Some years ago the European Parliament claimed on this issue. In a report about demographic changes in Europe published in 2008, the members of the Union were called to: “ensure the right of couples to guarantee universal access to infertility treatment and medically assisted procreation by taking steps with a view to reducing the financial and other obstacles… because infertility is one of the causes of demographic decline and it should be recognized as a public-health concern and as a social problem affecting both men and women”.
I feel that some sort of blindness and deafness affects politicians and heath authorities. Blindness because they are not able to anticipate the huge problem that is coming in a couple of years: there will not be enough young people working and elderly population will not have any income at all. Deafness, because they do not hear (or ever listen to) the claims and recommendations of European parliament.
What can we do?
Following what Professor Anders Nyboe Andersen shared with us last weekend in Copenhagen, as ART professionals we sought treatments that should be Appropriate, Acceptable, Available, Accessible and Affordable. He calls tit he 5-A rule. I call it the common sense rule.