The Ministry of Health and Prevention supports the Reproductive Medical Assistance Program

Dr. Amin Al-Amiri: The law allows Embryos and Eggs Freezing and gives hope to couples willing to reproduce, and strengthens the UAE Vision to achieve leadership in medical tourism in the field of fertility and reproduction

The law includes many topics and mechanisms such as:
• Forming a national committee to provide recommendations and proposals related to the field of fertility centers in the country.
• Allows the involvement of National capabilities in the field of scientific research on fertility treatments
• The project is in line with the UAE identity, and its cultural, moral and religious components
• The UAE has fertility centers aligned with international benchmarks and can provide the highest standards of fertility treatments
• Embryo freezing increases the chances of reproduction by 70%, avoids genetic diseases such as thalassemia and sickle cell anemia

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) has unveiled a draft law approved by the UAE Cabinet on medical assistance for reproduction that allows embryo, egg and sperm freezing which aims to give hope to those who experience difficulty reproducing by increasing their chances of getting pregnant, promoting children’s health, as well as to bolster the UAE Vision to achieve leadership in the field of fertilization and assisted reproduction.

H.E. Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing has highlighted the importance of the draft law approved by the UAE Cabinet and pending for approval by His Highness (H.H.) Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. Once the approval of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa is obtained, the executive regulations will be released through a Cabinet decision. The project has been consulted with all health authorities; experts and consultants from MOHAP, the Health Council, Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Sharjah Health Authority, Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA), The Supreme Legislation Committee in Dubai and the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments.

Dr. Amin has pointed out that the MOHAP strategy came from the UAE vision and the National Agenda 2021 in line with its UAE centennial 2071 which aims at developing the healthcare system in the country and upgrading it to the best global levels to keep pace with the major changes taking place in the country and its esteemed position globally. In this context, the proposed legislation aims to strengthen the legal framework that will organize the practice of offering medical assistance for reproduction, while preserving the identity of the society and its cultural, moral and religious components.

He explained that medical assistance for reproduction includes the identification of medical tools and methods that will assist in pregnancy and childbirth without natural contact, which include clinical and biological interventions to facilitate conception.

The benefits of the draft law and its beneficiaries

In the short term, the proposed legislation will contribute to the development of the legal framework for healthcare practices in the country where the licensing, monitoring and inspection will be distributed between the Ministry and the other health authorities according to their medical specialties. Moreover, the proposed legislation will lead to the development of medical assistance services for reproduction in the country. The law includes all techniques and methods used in this field, taking into account the needs of the community and its intended contribution to the growth of such medical services offered by various fertility centers in the country. For its long-term impact, the proposed legislation will help strengthen UAE’s healthcare system, which will have a positive impact on public health and thus further improve development indicators.

He also noted the UAE has advanced fertility centers and facilities at par with international centers. The first beneficiaries of the project will be patients suffering from sterility for any reason. Consequently, couples will also benefit from freezing eggs, sperms or embryos. In fact, pregnancy rate in the case of embryo freezing is higher by 40% compared to egg freezing. This medical breakthrough is important in the treatment of infertility and in helping couples reproduce, especially in terms of their convenience and accessibility, leaving patients with no reason to travel outside the UAE for treatment. Embryo freezing increases the IVF success to 70%, and helps prevent cases of genetic diseases such as thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.

Implementation plan and legislative side

The draft law includes 36 articles. The implementation plan covers the communication with the concerned authorities to inform them about the new legislation, making the executive regulations and preparing them immediately after publication of the legislation in the official gazette. The plan also includes organizing an induction workshop with the media and all the parties concerned and targeted by this legislation within 30 working days of the publication of the legislation in the Official Gazette.

The new draft law will abolish Federal Law No. (11) of 2008 on the licensing of fertility centers in the UAE. An amendment has been made on the title of the legislation to become (medical assistance for reproduction) instead of the previous law (license of fertilization centers in the UAE). The draft law stipulates the establishment of a national advisory committee to provide recommendations and proposals related to the field of medical assistance centers for reproduction, as this field is witnessing rapid developments that must be dealt with collectively and in consultation between the various health authorities in the country, taking into consideration cultural, ethical and religious components prevailing in the society.

Special controls have been put in place for the removal of samples of fertilized eggs or gametes or their entry into the country, in accordance with regulations and conditions. In addition to an important amendment at the level of provisions related to conducting research and experiments on fertilized eggs or gametes, in accordance with the controls and conditions prescribed by the Executive Regulations. This amendment is very important because it allows national competencies to play a positive role in the field of scientific research on medical assistance on reproduction, and this is consistent with the UAE’s tendency to encourage innovation in various fields of science, while maintaining the previous ban on the commercial use of fertilized eggs and gametes or introducing non-therapeutic genetic modifications to it, according to the ethical principles adopted.

Merits of the draft law adopted and its application

Al Amiri noted a set of conditions and controls mentioned by the project, including; That medically assisted reproductive technology is the most appropriate method of reproduction after it has been proven that the pregnancy cannot be made by natural contact for a period of at least one year; The licensed health facility should provide a detailed explanation to the couple about the assisted reproductive technology chosen, the stages of the operation and the negative implications or potential complications, as well as the cost of the procedure and actual pregnancy rate of similar cases at the same center; and Presenting a certificate from a specialist doctor that there is no danger to the life of the mother or fetus or serious damage to their health within the scope of medical knowledge.

Dr. Amin also stated that fertility centers must take the maximum possible medical measures to prevent the mixing between oocytes. When the remaining fertilized eggs are no longer needed, these eggs are left without medical attention until they expire. Also, these centers are allowed to carry out research or experiments on non-fertilized eggs and on sperm cells, in accordance with the conditions and controls specified by the executive regulations of this law, in addition to allowing the pre- implantation Genetic Diagnosis to identify any genetic disease, providing that necessary actions are taken to protect the fertilized egg from any damage.

Al Aimiri stressed that the draft law prohibits in any way the establishment of or dealing with embryonic banks in the Country, assuring the need to maintain the necessary records for the registration of all medical operations related to assisted reproductive technologies and the importance of establishing a committee at the Center to monitor all such activities.

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