Six privately-funded fertility clinics will move into state hands from January 1, 2020, as part of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s mission to reverse the country’s falling birthrate. Orban wants to increase the birthrate in Hungary without encouraging immigration, opposition to which has defined his political platform over the past decade. The government has also introduced tax benefits, loans and other benefits for families.
Meanwhile, the currently funded infertility treatment drugs and infertility interventions will be free of charge, said Secretary of State Novák Katalin.
Adrienn Salamon, president of the Women’s Health Foundation, which focuses on endometriosis, one of the key causes of infertility, told Euronews that there was very little clarity from the government of Hungary about how the changes will actually work.
But, she added, “if the banners are true in this case hundreds of families will have the opportunity of having their babies ‘easier’. The procedure can be faster and families have to pay nothing or less.”
It is also unclear whether fertility treatment will be restricted to heterosexual couples.
In a ruling published in the official gazette Magyar Kozlony late on Thursday, the government said it had brought six private clinics specialized in in-vitro fertilization (IVF) under state ownership and control, designating the move an issue of “national strategic importance” and exempting it from competition rules.
The government also said drugs used in fertility treatments would be free of charge as of Jan. 1 and volume limitations for state-financed IVF treatments would be abolished in order to eliminate waiting lists.
A government spokesman did not reply to Reuter’s questions about the details of the takeover.
The leading IVF clinic in Budapest, the Kaali Institute, which was taken into state ownership, declined to comment.
Its founder, Professor Geza Nagy Kaali, was cited in a government statement as saying at a press conference that with the “improved financing” even more babies will be born.
In 2017, Kaali wrote an open letter to Orban, saying 20-25% of Hungarian couples who want to have children were struggling with fertility problems.
He had urged the abolition of limitations on state financing for IVF treatments, saying that as a result, the number of babies born with IVF could rise to 3,500 from 2,000 per year.