On the occasion of the World Health Day, Prof. Antonio Pellicer, presidente de IVI (Valencian Institute of Infertility), it brings us closer to the current panorama in terms of health, also reproductive, and encourages us not to lose hope because... "Life will come back stronger than ever":
This year, the media focal point for World Health Day on April 7 will not center on our usual review of the health obstacles that we have overcome during the year. Instead of the classic documentaries about the life expectancy in Europe, we will focus our attention on the expected curves that are giving us hope. The health reports will give way to the chronicles and updates about life on the cutting edge.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the most severe threat to global public health in over 100 years at least. This healthcare crisis reminds us that people's lives, especially those of the elderly and others with underlying medical conditions, are not as well-protected and safe as we once believed. It also points out that all of the previously achieved scientific and medical issues are now on standby and all that this implies.
Reproductive medicine is not exempt from this healthcare standstill, a life recession that has disrupted or even stopped many people’s possibilities: older patients for whom a few months could mean years in terms of potential fertility; women and men who have recently been diagnosed with cancer who will not be able to preserve their fertility before undergoing urgent chemotherapy treatments…although the entire scientific community is keeping close watch on COVID-19, we are also focusing on these patients’ fertility needs.
Over the last few days, the Centers of Reproductive Medicine (CRM) have had to make one of the most difficult decisions since our existence. We have had to cancel thousands of reproductive cycles. However, our sensible decision was based on the reality that we must protect the health of our employees and as many patients as possible in the midst of this devastating situation that has hit both Spain and Italy.
As a result, activity in the CRMs is practically non-existent and all embryos will remain frozen until we are advised that we can resume direct and close contact with our patients. We must know for sure that pregnant women are not a special risk group, that the virus is not teratogenic, and that the fetus will not be infected if the mother contracts COVID-19.
On such a significant occasion as this year’s World Health Day, I would like to highlight the importance of reproductive health and the efforts of all people who dedicate their lives to ensure the continuity of life.
In recent weeks, we have witnessed attempts to distribute professional activities into the categories of “essential” and “non-essential”. I believe that this method of labelling is irrelevant in the fields of medicine and science. Perhaps a more accurate classification would either be “it can wait,” or “it cannot wait”. The field of medicine today is both holistic and multidisciplinary. For this very reason, we must respect the work of all health professionals and the necessities of those who need us.
When all of this passes, and it will—according to the statistics and to history itself—we must be ready to take care of the patients who will need us more than ever. The Los CMR will face a completely new scenario with new guidelines to safeguard what we have struggled so hard to achieve during the past 40 years: reproductive safety and security. This will take place before we know it, so let us be prepared to provide our citizens with everything that they may need, and life will continue stronger than ever before. I can think of no better wish at this moment when I am reading the latest case count in the newspaper.