€2,6 million was granted over two years for egg cryopreservation
In the Subsidy Scheme of the Ministry of Health, all women over 35 years of age or younger if there is a medical reason are entitled to a subsidy
The issue of low fertility is a matter of concern to the Ministry of Health, which is taking measures to reduce it. As the Minister of Health Popi Kanari announced in her speech on the occasion of Mother's Day, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance, as part of the updated Demographic and Family Policy Action Plan, the Ministry of Health has included the Subsidy Plan to deal with infertility .
"We should take family planning issues into account, as the average Cypriot woman gives birth at the age of 32. We should encourage young women to start family planning as early as possible, since female fertility declines significantly after the age of 35. This, unquestionably, adds to the rate of infertility that we see today, but it also adds physical, psychological and financial costs to every woman who enters the process of assisted reproduction in order to have her own child.
The theme of the event was fertility. As Dr. Kanari said, “The World Health Organization has recognized infertility as a disease, since it affects millions of people and has an impact on their families and the community at large. It is estimated that more than five million children have been born worldwide in the more than 30 years that treatment approaches have been developed to treat infertility.
"In recent years there has been an increase in the rate of infertility, with a significant number of couples and single women resorting to assisted reproduction methods to have a child, where it is estimated that one in six people will be faced with infertility issues. The Ministry of Health promoted a modern legislation for assisted reproduction and subsidizes treatments to deal with infertility, through a Scheme, which is innovative because it also subsidizes the storage of eggs by women, with the aim of preserving their fertility over time."
The subsidy criteria
"S" contacted the Department of Health to get more information about what the criteria are for a woman to join the Egg Cryopreservation Scheme. As we were informed, "all women who are over 35 years old or younger if there is a medical reason are entitled to be subsidized". When asked if the cost will be subsidized in case of cryopreservation failure, it is noted that "the state subsidizes the cryopreservation process as the drugs are also provided free of charge. If there are no eggs, there is no cryopreservation." Regarding the age limit of a woman, who wants to participate in this procedure, it is stated that it is from 35 to 50 years. It is recorded that until 2022, within a period of two years, 1.298 applications were approved. It is noted that cryopreservation in Cyprus started from 6/4/2020, with an amendment to the Subsidy Plan.
According to the Ministry of Health, married couples (man and woman) or couples who have a permanent relationship by presenting an affidavit, single persons who have secured a license from the Assisted Reproduction Council, women up to 50 years of age, otherwise at an older age must have the right to a subsidy also permission from the Council, permanent residents of Cyprus beneficiaries of the General Health Plan, as well as couples where one spouse is a Cypriot permanent resident of Cyprus and the other a permanent resident of Cyprus with a temporary residence permit and both are beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Childless couples or single people are entitled to four subsidies. If they have had one child they are entitled to three subsidies, while if they have two or more children they are entitled to two subsidies. During the cryopreservation of the eggs, the woman signs a declaration that the procedure is for her personal use and if they are not used, they will be destroyed, as provided by law. The subsidy is given for treatments carried out within the Republic of Cyprus and for women who decide to proceed with egg storage it amounts to 2.000 euros at a time.
Cost and lifetime
As Gynecologist - Obstetrician Dr. Nikos Zottis explains to "S", the woman who participates in the cryopreservation process is entitled to be subsidized up to four times. The total cost of the procedure ranges from 2.700 – 3.000 euros. The remaining amount is filled by the beneficiary. As he mentions, there are approximately 6-7 IVF Centers operating in Cyprus, of which four are located in Nicosia and the others in Limassol.
The cryopreservation process takes place in private IVF Centers, which are subsidized by the state and provide the beneficiaries with the drugs free of charge. Cryopreserved eggs have a shelf life of 50 years, however in Cyprus the legislation allows their preservation for up to ten years, with the possibility of extending another ten years, i.e. a total of 20 years.
Reduced births in 2022
According to data obtained by "S" from the Ministry of the Interior, there were fewer births last year compared to 2021. Specifically, in 2022 a total of 7.316 births by Greek Cypriot women were recorded, while in 2021 there were 7.867 births.
In particular, of the births in 2022, 3.510 correspond to one child of a mother, 2.751 to two children, 790 to three children, 177 to four children, 25 to five children, eight to six children, three to seven children, two in eight children and one in nine children of a mother. Also, in 2021, there were 3.790 births from a mother with one child, 2.960 from a mother with two children, 838 from a mother with three children, 164 births from a mother with four children, 36 from a mother with five children, ten births from a mother with six children, four births to a mother of seven children, three to a mother of eight children, two to a mother of nine children, one birth to a mother of ten children and two births to a mother of eleven children. In other words, it is observed that the births of children from mothers with many children are decreasing, most of them have up to two children, while the majority of births are in families with only one child.