Hungary will be providing free IVF to couples to combat the country's declining birth rate, announced the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.
Hungary's population has been progressively declining for four decades and last month the government acquired six fertility clinics.
The falling birth rate within Hungary is one of the key issues the current government wants to tackle. By bringing fertility clinics under state control, Orban hopes to 'make what happens to the fertilised eggs fully transparent during the entire process'.
Hungarians have been having fewer children, and there has been a rise in emigration of working-age people to other EU nations. Orban proclaimed that the measure was of 'strategic importance' to boost the nation's population, without relying on immigration.
'The government has decided that from 1 February medications used in fertility treatment will be free of charge [and] IVF treatment will no longer be market based', he said.
However, it is currently unclear as to the eligibility criteria for receiving a free cycle and whether it will be restricted to certain demographics. Orban has also brought in other drastic measures to encourage Hungarians to have more children, including income tax exemptions-for-life for couples with four or more children, and certain loans being voided for couples with three or more children. Furthermore, Orban's government is also considering the income tax exemption to include single women who have three children.
The right-wing politician is known for his strict stance against immigration and wanted to raise the population with Hungarian nationals alone. His government has an anti-immigration policy and Orban has stated that he advocates 'procreation over immigration' and that immigration is not the way to halt population decline.
He explained, 'If we want Hungarian children instead of immigrants, and if the Hungarian economy can generate the necessary funding, then the only solution is to spend as much of the funds as possible on supporting families and raising children.'