Local Fianna Fáil Minister, Thomas Byrne, has welcomed an announcement from his party colleague and Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, detailing the access criteria and the fertility services that will be publicly funded from September.

Eligible patients will be entitled to one full cycle of IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatment, initially provided in HSE-approved private clinics of their choice ahead of the opening next year of the first public National Advanced AHR  (Assisted Human Reproduction) Centre.

To be eligible for publicly funded treatment, couples must be resident in Ireland and referred to a Regional Fertility Hub through their GP. They must be in a relationship for at least one year, have no children from this relationship. Patients with known clinical causes of infertility and patients where there is no known clinical cause will be eligible for treatment. Women up to the age of 40 and men up to the age of 59 will be considered eligible.

Minister Byrne said, “Fianna Fáil’s commitment to introduce a publicly funded model of care for fertility treatment is soon to become a reality for the thousands of couples experiencing infertility.

“In Ireland, as many as one in six couples will experience fertility issues affecting both men and women equally and I warmly welcome news today, that from September, Assisted Human Reproduction treatment will be publicly funded for the first time in the State. This has been promised by successive health Ministers, but I am proud to say it is now finally being delivered by Fianna Fáíl Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.

“Fianna Fáil in Government acknowledge that people who are desperate to have a child are the most vulnerable and hugely open to exploitation. They are facing mental, physical and relationship challenges and on top of it all, huge financial barriers.  It has been a key priority of mine and my colleagues to address this issue and I’m delighted that Minister Donnelly has committed to doing so.

“It represents a transformative step toward reproductive equality where the dream of parenthood becomes a reality for every aspiring parent, irrespective of their financial status.

“I understand that work is continuing on the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill which will allow Government to improve accessibility to AHR treatments, while at the same time embedding safe and appropriate clinical practice and ensuring the cost-effective use of public resources.

“I look forward this Bill progressing and ultimately seeing AHR services being expanded to wider categories so that we can help more people to fulfil their wish of starting a family.”