On Tuesday, the Federal Public Health Office (FPHO) announced that, with effect from 15 July 2015, mandatory treatment insurance schemes would refund non-invasive screening tests for Down syndrome, Edward syndrome or Patau’s syndrome or NIPS.
To benefit from this refund, women must have initially undergone a test during the first trimester comprising a nuchal transparency scan and blood tests. The results of this test must indicate a risk of Down, Edward or Patau’s syndrome greater than 1/1000. “According to provisions, the number of invasive tests carried out when Down, Edward or Patau’s syndrome is suspected should range from 3000 per year to a few hundred”, according to the FPHO press release.
“The decision taken by the FPHO will re-establish a fair situation by putting an end to this two-tier system involving those who can pay for NIPS and those who cannot”, commented Ariane Giacobino, Deputy Physician in the Department of Generic Medicine at Geneva University Hospitals who is following up Down Syndrome patients treated in this establishment. However, she added that, “The families of Down syndrome patients are worried what will happen when babies are no longer born with one of these syndromes. Will there be resources to treat them? Will they also be integrated into society?”
She confirms that there is a “gradual drift towards the elimination of Down syndrome, Edward syndrome and Patau syndrome without questions having been clearly raised by society”. As far as she is concerned, “there is a need to inform couples about current treatment methods for patients with these syndromes since there is a marked improvement in these treatment strategies”. Samia Hurst, ethicist at Geneva University stresses that this information must be transmitted “before the first ultrasound scan and before all procedures”.
Following this approach, Switzerland is introducing NIPS into its screening policy for Down, Edward and Patau’s syndrome.
Le Temps (Aurélie Coulon) 08/07/2015 – Communiqué de presse de l’OFSP (07/07/2015)