Russia promotes In Vitro Fertilization to boom population slump

Moscow, RussiaUpdated: Jan 30, 2020, 05:52 PM IST
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File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photograph:(AFP)

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He announced enhanced child benefits and payouts to families for every new baby to help the country "escape from the demographic trap."

Vladimir Putin has announced the promotion of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to boost Russia's declining population.

He announced enhanced child benefits and payouts to families for every new baby to help the country "escape from the demographic trap."

"Russia's fate and its historic prospects depend on how many of us there are," the Russian President said.

The country's population fell to 142.9 million in 2010 after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, when it was 148.3 million.

It is now back up to 146 million but is projected to fall again.

In a private clinic, the price of a cycle of in-vitro fertilisation starts at around 100,000 rubles, not including the costs of donor sperm and eggs. 

This is more than three times the median monthly wage.

But since 2013, the IVF procedure, which is the most effective fertility treatment with a success rate of around 30 percent, has largely been state-funded under a compulsory health insurance scheme.

Russia's current population of 146 million is predicted to fall by 4 to 12 million by 2035. Those in their 20s now were born during a massive slump in the birthrate amid economic uncertainties, so there are fewer people to become new parents.

In the first 10 months of last year, the population fell by almost 260,000 people, the steepest drop over the past 11 years.

Putin has rolled out a number of policies aimed at encouraging people to have babies since coming to power in 2000.

This month, he called for the birthrate to go up to 1.7 children per woman by 2024, from the current figure of 1.5.

Fertility treatment is part of this strategy.

Nationwide, the number of state-financed IVF procedures per year rose from 46,000 to 78,000 between 2016 and 2018, according to the health ministry.

The goal is to reach 90,000 per year in 2024, which would make Russia a leader in the field, according to the figures of the Russian Association for Human Reproduction.

Russia has very liberal laws on reproductive rights. There are no age limits on assisted reproduction and it is open to single women and unmarried couples.

Annual numbers of abortions fell from 1.5 million to 567,000 between 2010 and 2018, according to the health ministry. 

Despite the massive drop, abortion numbers still loom large in comparison to the annual birth rate of some 1.6 million babies.