ESHRE extends its reach in collaborations and political representation

ESHRE joined a group of invited experts in December for a WHO global summit on safe and cost-effective fertility treatment in low and middle income countries

Published 17 December 2018

As ESHRE adopts a greater 'globalised policy', there are now more congress exchange sessions and more stakeholder representation than ever before.

In December last ESHRE took part in a 'global summit' organised by the WHO for developing strategies to improve access to safe and cost-effective fertility care in low to middle income countries. ESHRE had contributed to this initiative from its instigation as co-sponsors, with support for both speakers and some delegates. 'We saw the summit as a milestone towards a common strategy for helping those millions of couples needing medical assistance to create a family,' says ESHRE's Chairman Elect Cristina Magli.

' It was emphasised again and again,' she adds, 'that infertility is a disease, and therefore important in developing strategies for its inclusion in national healthcare agendas and international classifications of diseases. And because of its global relevance, it was felt that WHO has a crucial role. There was also consensus on the need for data collection and management, guidelines, and education at all levels - in which ESHRE clearly has a part to play.'

Participation in this WHO initiative is just one of several in which ESHRE has taken on stakeholder status, some of which are co-ordinated through the Society's recently formed EU Affairs Committee. Thus, ESHRE is a member of the Council of Europe's European Committee on Organ Transplantation (CD-P-TO), the steering committee guiding transplantation activities as defined by the EU's Tissue and Cell Directives. The committee's activities include the collection of data and practice monitoring in Europe, the transfer of knowledge and expertise through training and networking and the elaboration of reports, surveys and recommendations. ESHRE data as collected and reviewed by the EIM Consortium will be central to intentions for a single common dataset for both the Council of Europe (CD-P-TO) and the European Commission. ESHRE has already been instrumental in developing the Council of Europe's guide on oocyte donation and is now preparing a second publication on fertility preservation.

Similarly, ESHRE has taken part in stakeholder meetings arranged by the European Commission (DG Sante) on how (and if) the Tissue and Cell Directives have met their aims in terms of safety and quality - and thus whether any regulatory update is necessary. ESHRE, through former EIM Chairman Carlos Calhaz-Jorge and Past Chairman Kersti Lundin, provided expert opinion on gamete donation and technological developments in ART.

ESHRE is also extending its international collaborations with other professional societies, most evident in added exchange sessions at international congresses and at ESHRE's own Annual Meeting. Exchange sessions with the Fertility Society of Australia and ASRM have long been in the invited programme of ESHRE (with the FSA since 1996, and ASRM since 1994), but 2019 will see for the first time a session hosted by China's two main professional societies, the Chinese Association for Reproductive Medicine and the Chinese Society of Reproductive Medicine, and a session organised by the Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction and Indian Fertility Society.

Precongress courses arranged by the ASRM and MEFS (Middle East Fertility Society) are regular events at ESHRE annual meetings, while ESHRE itself has staged precongress courses and stand-alone sessions at the international meetings of IFFS, FIGO and ASRM. However, in 2019 these collaborative sessions will be extended further to the congresses of ALMER (Latin-American Association for Reproductive Medicine), ASPIRE (Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction), IFFS and ASRM. Each of these sessions will be in the hands of one of ESHRE's Special Interest Groups to devise the title and contents of the session.

There was also a first for ESHRE in 2018 in a pilot project to hold an embryology certification exam in India. A total of 22 took the exam, though only five were successful. There were, however, concerns after the exam that more time was needed for logistics and to ensure compliance with European accreditation. The latter is also an international initiative of ESHRE by which all ESHRE embryology exams since 2017 have been monitored by European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) through in their Council of European Specialist Medical Assessment (CESMA).

And of course in 2019 ESHRE will jointly host with the ASRM the sixth 'Best Of' meeting, taking place in New York on 14-16 March. ESHRE Chairman Roy Farquharson, who expects around 1000 in attendance in New York, says that ESHRE's collaboration with ASRM 'has never been stronger', but sees ESHRE's wider and more extended reach as reflecting a 'globalised policy' of cross-cultural and cross-scientific exchange. This globalisation is already evident in the international profile of ESHRE membership and in submissions to the journals and annual meetings. Indeed, in 2017, for the first time ever, the greatest number of abstracts submitted to an ESHRE Annual Meeting came from China (with Japan the third most prolific and USA fifth).