Mark Sant slams Grech on permanent IVF specialist in hospital: ‘We’ve had them for three years’

Speaking on ONE TV programme Awla, gynaecologist Mark Sant says he was left surprised at Bernard Grech’s pledge to bring in a permanent IVF specialist in the country, stating Malta has had three IVF experts for at least three years

Gynaecologist Mark Sant
Gynaecologist Mark Sant

Gynaecologist Mark Sant has slammed comments made by Bernard Grech’s on IVF, saying he was left dumbfounded with the PN leader’s pledge to have a permanent IVF specialist in the country.

In a political event in Isla on Wednesday, Grech pledged to bring in a permanent IVF specialist in the country after he claimed the country has no such experts.

The PN leader was referring to the 'batching process’. A ‘Batch IVF’ is an approach where the menstrual cycles of multiple women are programmed, such that they can undergo all the processes; from stimulation until embryo transfer about the same time.

This practice was due to the lack of IVF specialists in the country, which required experts to be flown into the country to oversee the process. But Sant said the country is now into its third year of having three embryologists in Malta, and the “batching” practice is no longer carried out.

“Maybe that’s why I didn’t speak to him about the issue,” Sant said during Labour TV programme Awla on Thursday hosted by lawyer Luke Dalli. 

Mark Sant said the Prime Minister had requested a meeting with him “a few months ago”.

“He asked how I felt about the current IVF situation in the country. He knew it was a rhetoric question,” he said. “I am happy when someone suffering from infertility problems can receive a service as good as other countries who lead in the sector.”

“I find myself telling patients to go abroad for the healthcare they need. As a socialist I find it unfair for IVF success to be determined by money,” Sant said.

He also welcomed the Labour Party’s pledge to introduce PGD testing in the country. “Now a days through IVF we can avoid certain complications. We can create embryos, test them, and only implant embryos which don’t have these complications.”

“You have other situations where the women suffer from implantation failures. This is because the embryos have a genetic defect, and is determined from external factors such as age. We can bypass ‘this roulette’, by testing them before implantation,” he said.

The PL’s pledge to allow parents to have a second child through IVF was also welcomed by Sant. “Right now, it is only possible for couples who have frozen embryos left from the initial procedure. This is not a normal situation, as not a lot of couples have spare embryos.”

Labour Party President Ramona Attard said since the Prime Minister announced the election date, the party started rolling out proposals just a few hours after Abela’s meeting with the President George Vella.

“This contrasts with how unprepared the Nationalist Party is,” Attard said.

She also said that Thursday morning’s KSU debate highlighted “the stark difference” between the two leaders. “Grech doesn’t even know the basics, he doesn’t even know how much his proposals will cost. On the other hand, the PM was clear it will cost €3.3 billion.”

“With us there are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’,” she said.

She said the coming days will be challenging for the country, and Abela is abroad because of the ongoing conflict. “We know the coming days will be challenging. The PM is abroad because of the ongoing war.”

“That is the difference between a statesman, and someone focused on partisan politics,” she said.

She said the coming months will be important for the country to remain united. “We need to remain focused on the best interest of the country, and not let them divide us.”