ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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Health Ministry to offer financial encouragement for public hospitals to expand IVF clinics

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative image: A lab in an IVF clinic. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Illustrative image: A lab in an IVF clinic. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Health Ministry asks Israel’s public hospitals to expand their in vitro fertilization departments so more couples and individuals seeking IVF treatments or fertility preservation can do so. The ministry is allocating a special budget to support the public hospitals in this effort, which it wants to get going as soon as possible.

The request comes shortly after the ministry’s barred the IVF department at the private Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv from accepting new patients, following a series of disturbing errors. Assuta was found to have tried to cover up the fact that a child conceived there by IVF was later found to not be genetically linked to its father, and that 13 fertilized eggs had dried up at the hospital.

In September 2022, a woman discovered that her embryo had been mixed up at Assuta’s Rishon Lezion branch. She and her husband waged a legal battle to keep the baby, who was born in October. In that case, the Health Ministry initially sought to determine the child’s biological parents, but after a couple thought to be the most likely match was ruled out by tests, officials announced in November that they would halt the search. In March 2023, the Supreme Court decided not to allow further genetic testing for six other couples to determine if they were the biological parents of the child.

Even before protocol and patient safety problems surfaced at the Assuta fertility clinics, the Health Ministry had begun evaluating options for dealing with the rise in demand in recent years for IVF treatment. Among the recommendations of a specially appointed committee was to support public hospitals in expanding their IVF services and help them make them more attractive to the public.

Public hospitals that expand capacity at their IVF clinics will receive budgetary support from the Health Ministry to increase clinic operating hours and enable patients to choose their doctor without additional cost.

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