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“It is up to the individual to decide whether or not to have a family” – Johanna Tassot - ESHRE

Johanna Tassot works as a policy officer for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).  Her organisation promotes study and research in the field of reproduction. She advocates for better policies for people affected by infertility and for the medical professionals helping them.



What does the change you are trying to achieve look like? Why is the EU important?


My role is to raise awareness of infertility as an important health issue at a political and societal level and to build a bridge between medical professionals and the EU institutions. We want to ensure that people affected by infertility receive optimal support, including access to appropriate treatment, social care and fertility prevention knowledge.


The EU plays an important role in providing funding for projects such as infertility education, even though access to care policies is regulated at national level. We are currently closely monitoring the Substances of human origin (SoHO) regulation. This is a new proposal that will replace the Blood Directive (2002/98/EC) and the Tissues and Cells Directive (2004/23/EC). This is a very technical issue. It’s crucial that decisions are made on the basis of evidence and high-quality information to ensure high standards of safety and quality of care for patients.


Which challenges are you facing?


One challenge is conservative ideologies about who should reproduce and how. We believe that it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to have a family. 

 

Another challenge is the fragmented regulatory framework across Member States. It is difficult to gather data and develop evidence-based solutions when each country has its own rules.

 

Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples, but no one talks about it. There is a lot of stigma around it and we want to change that.


One tip you want to share with other public interest advocates?


Politicians are human beings. Of course, we should be respectful and polite, but we should not be afraid to reach out and make a phone call. Building bridges between medical professionals and politicians is crucial. Our doctors and people in the lab sometimes do not know how to talk to them because there is still some fear and shyness.

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