Universal Access to fertility care: 12 years of facing challenges, providing solutions and witnessing achievements.

During the past 12 and 13 of December 2019 our headquarters in Genk, Belgium welcomed key opinion leaders, interested participants and representatives of major organizations to our meeting ‘Universal access to infertility care: from dream to reality’. This noteworthy gathering of specialists and professionals permitted an active exchange of knowledge and experiences in access to fertility care, highlighting the barriers and offering solutions to worldwide access to fertility care. 

This meeting was the follow-up of an initiative that took place 12 years ago by our founder, Prof. dr. Willem Ombelet, who presented in detail the major obstacles to our goal but also the outstanding progress that has been achived during the past years. 

Indeed, during the past 12 years, joint efforts have lead to a substantial number of scientific articles, describing the consequences of being childless, not only in resource-poor societies, but also in the developed world, creating awareness and starting a dialogue to solve this problem. Also, major efforts in advocacy and networking have been made to involve major societies (e.g. World Health Organization) in the resolution of this global issue. Finally, one of the major roadblocks, the lack of affordable assisted reproduction treatment methods, has been tackled by the developement, validation and application of effective mild ovarian stimulation protocols for in vitro fertilization (IVF) combined with cost-efficient laboratory workflows including an innovative embryo culture system, the Walking Egg IVF system. Despite these achievements, many other issues, mainly the scale-up and application of these methodologies worldwide remain.

As an outcome, a roadmap to tackle these and further difficulties, to better organize our tasks and to best focus our joint efforts was agreed by all participants giving us an clear view of the future. A report on the outcome of this meeting will be soon published in our website.