Government issues tender for provision of IVF services
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The Governement has said that the tender for the provision of services for In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was published yesterday, 3rd September 2013, both locally in the Government Gazette and also Internationally, in the Official Journal of the European Union.
This tender is the first step towards the eventual announcement that IVF will be considered as part of the National Health Care Package and couples will soon start to be screened as regards eligibility and thus subsequently initiate the clinical phases of IVF. Eligible couples will be given the opportunity of only three free IVF interventions.
The Government said that couples will be selected as articulated in the Embryo Protection Act. To be clinically eligible for this service, a couple has to be referred to the Fertility Assisted Clinic at Mater Dei Hospital (MDH) by their family doctor or specialist.
“The tender provides for a schedule where the amount of cycles will increase yearly over a period of three years.”
Assisted reproductive services mainly consist of IVF which may be considered as a process with the following three Phases:
1. Clinical assessment of the couple, hormonal stimulation and induction of ovulation of the female prospective parent.
2. Oocyte retrieval, production of sperm sample, sperm preparation and surgical extraction of sperm as clinically indicated were necessary. IVF procedure itself, including embryo culture, assisted hatching and the transfer back of fertilised eggs.
3. Obstetric follow up till birth.
The Government said that it is planned that only Phase 2 of the above IVF process will be outsourced in the form of a Private Public Partnership (PPP) contractual agreement whilst retaining in-house Phase 1 and Phase 3.
“All the phases through this PPP tender will be done at MDH thus maximising Continuity of Care by health care professionals; clients comfort and convenience whilst at the same time maximising the assets that have already been invested in the Maltese island’s main public hospital, including the necessary equipped theatre, whilst also saving on further expenditure.
“This new service to be launched at MDH in the form of PPP will give an additional option to couples seeking this specialised service, as couples can now opt for the public in addition to the private sector.”
It siad that this is a new PPP model tailor made for our local context whereby MDH assets would yield a return on the investment as the private provider may utilise these same facilities for private patients in out of duty hours.
“All the above will be in conformity with the Embryo Protection Act and with the Code of Practice of the Embryo Protection Authority and also the Superintendent of Public Health to ensure that high standards are maintained. Furthermore, Infertility Counselling Services will also be offered in the whole three phases,” the Government said.
“The main clinical justification for the immediacy of the MFH commitment to offer assisted reproductive services as part of the National Health Service (NHS) Package of care, arises from nature’s female biological fertility window, constraining the immediacy of this intervention especially as regards to those couples who have been waiting for the longest time, and who are eligible to undergo the procedures,” the Government concluded.