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Published: 20:59, June 01, 2023 | Updated: 21:23, June 01, 2023
DAB proposes help with assisted reproductive technology
By Mike Gu in Hong Kong
Published:20:59, June 01, 2023 Updated:21:23, June 01, 2023 By Mike Gu in Hong Kong

Pedestrians, many of them wearing face masks, use a crossing in Central, Hong Kong, on Feb 28. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

To raise Hong Kong’s fertility rate, which is the lowest in the world, a local party has called for greater subsidies for those opting for assisted reproductive technology and extending the preservation period of frozen eggs.

According to a recent survey released by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, a quarter of 471 women surveyed have never considered giving birth to a child or are not sure whether they will do so in the future.

Only three public hospitals in Hong Kong offer a maximum of three government-franchised in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments to eligible women

The survey was conducted by the family and women affairs committees of the party from April 4 through May 20.

READ MORE: Fertility treatment increasing multiple births

A growing number of couples are considering the use of assisted reproductive technology, such as artificial fertilization and in vitro fertilization. From 2015 to 2021, the number of eggs stored has increased 15 times, according to the DAB.

Lee Wai-king, chairperson of the family affairs committee of the DAB, proposed that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government lift restrictions on the preservation of frozen eggs and offer female residents egg banking services that allow eggs to be preserved permanently in cold storage. Under Hong Kong law, frozen eggs can only be stored for 10 years.

Lee said that the services would improve women’s reproductive opportunities by making it easier for unmarried women who are willing to give birth and those who need to use frozen eggs for future use.

READ MORE: Experts propose ideas for reversing declining births

Lee suggested strengthening public-private medical cooperation to lower the cost of freezing eggs, so as to shorten waiting times and reduce financial pressure on the public. 

The assisted reproductive technology treatment is expensive and time-consuming. Only three public hospitals in Hong Kong offer a maximum of three government-franchised in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments to eligible women.

The party advised the HKSAR government to increase the quota of public medical services covering assisted reproductive technology, and to offer subsidies for those who choose to attend private hospitals to receive the treatment.

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