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FNC urges change in law on fertility

ABU DHABI // Calls for a law that allows the preservation of frozen embryos for fertility treatment are among the issues before the Federal National Council on Tuesday.

Azza bin Suleiman, from Dubai, said members of the public had raised the issue and she had spoken to patients seeking fertility treatment abroad during a recent visit to Belgium.

Amending the law to allow fertilised eggs to be frozen and preserved could address infertility problems, she said.

She has asked Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, about why Federal Law No 11 of 2008 on fertilisation centres does now allow fertilised eggs to be stored.

“If there is an over-supply of IVF egg cells, they are left without medical care until they expire,” said Mrs bin Suleiman.

The law does, however, allow the preservation of unfertilised eggs, “whereas the priority should be to preserve fertilised eggs”, she said. That could allow those who wish to get pregnant again to use their frozen embryos rather than repeating the fertilisation process, which could fail.

The issue is important because many there are many factors at work that lower fertility, including smoking, obesity and diabetes.

“Therefore, preserved IVF eggs could be the saviour for additional pregnancy attempts – if the law is amended,” she said.

Such a move would be “a great service to women”, said Dr Pankaj Shrivastav, consultant fertility specialist and director of Conceive Gynaecology and Fertility Hospital in Sharjah.

“I always said I will wait for the day when we will have a woman health minister, because only a woman will understand what other women go through,” said Dr Shrivastav.

“Here, every day, we are having to throw away beautiful embryos because we are not allowed to treat them.”

He said hospital staff try to be conservative with the number of eggs they fertilise, but “it is not an exact science”.

“Sometimes we get it wrong. We take four or five eggs out, and we get only one embryo,” he said.

At other times, six eggs are taken out and all of them fertilise, “and then we don’t know what to do with the extra embryos”, he said.

Mrs bin Suleiman also asked Mr Al Owais, in his capacity as head of the Federal Authority for Human Resources, why emergency leave in employee absences has been eliminated.

“A big number of employees, especially teachers, have been affected by the cancellation,” she said. “Anyone is prone to an emergency.”

She said officials should reconsider the move and that the human resources law should be amended accordingly “as one of the factors to establish a happy work environment”.

“Despite the short length of the emergency leave, it affects the lives of employees in a direct manner,” she said.

“I realised that after talking to many employees who said urgent circumstances could not wait for them to apply for leave through regular channels.”

Mrs bin Suleiman also asked Dr Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development, to what degree his ministry is ensuring that government and private buildings are accessible to the disabled.

Law No 29 of 2006 on the rights of people with disabilities required the public and private sectors to modify their premises accordingly.

“How successful has the ministry been in observing those standards in the government sector?” she asked.

“As we are striving to build smart and futuristic cities, it is very important that government buildings are accessible to the disabled … to enable them to move freely and safely and limit their need for other people’s assistance to move around.”

Other questions raised by FNC members to government officials for this week’s session include the new anti-dumping law.

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