International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) Surveillance 2016 represents several milestones. Surveillance 2016 serves as the first edition of the new online IFFS journal, Global Reproductive Health. Surveillance 2016 represents a broader joint effort of the IFFS and World Health Organization (WHO) in association with the IFFS status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in official relations with WHO. WHO representatives participated in the reorganization and reformatting of the 2012 questionnaire and expansion of the database of contacts among global public health officials and experts in order to supplement the pre-existing Surveillance contact list. We anticipate, that as we fulfill our responsibilities in our relations with WHO, that our joint activities in subsequent editions will likely continue to expand.
Surveillance 2016 represents the culmination of the efforts of many. I am profoundly grateful to the respondents who committed a great deal of time and effort to accurately compile and convey the information that was sought. A very talented editorial board was assembled and all contributed substantially to the revision of the questionnaire, the selection of new content, the analysis of the data, and the individual organization and production of each section.
Surveillance 2016 serves as a record and an overview of the practice, policies and activities associated with assisted reproductive technology (ART) as it existed globally, at the end of 2015. It also, provides an evaluation of specific national and global trends over time that concern specific, and sometimes controversial, topics and issues. However, there are significant limitations to this report. All aspects of ART are dynamic and continuing to change. The respondents for the 2016 edition represent the majority of countries with the most active ART services worldwide; however, the experiences of over 100 countries are not depicted in this report despite intensive efforts to find representative respondents to include them. The responses to the questionnaire were provided by one or two well-informed individuals in each country but these responses were not validated and may contain inherent accuracies. Caution should be taken when interpreting or re-presenting these data. There are limitations in the completeness and quality of the surveillance data reported, including the variability in respondents from countries who provided feedback to surveys in 2013 versus in 2016.
Nevertheless, this report remains the only source of information that provides a global overview of ART practices. Potential partnerships with other global organizations and an increase in awareness of this IFFS data collection should improve the quality in years to come. Despite this, Surveillance 2016 attests to a robust and expanding scope of ART practices, policies, and activities among nations around the world while highlighting significant and important differences with a review of trends that have occurred the triennium.
Steven J Ory