In a new report, the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern about the high prevalence of infertility worldwide and stressed the need to urgently improve accessibility to affordable, high-quality fertility care for those in need. More than 17 per cent of the adult population or roughly 1 in 6 people worldwide are affected by infertility, according to the WHO report released on Tuesday.
The report showed comparable rates of infertility prevalence in high-, middle- and low-income countries. While around 17.8 per cent of people are affected by infertility in their lifetime in high-income countries and the rate of lifetime prevalence was 16.5 per cent in low- and middle-income countries. This indicates that infertility is a major health challenge globally.
An important truth that this report has revealed is that “infertility does not discriminate” noted WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He also stressed the need to increase access to fertility care and include infertility issues in health research and policy.
Treatment of infertility remain inaccessible to many: WHO
Dr Tedros opined that people who are struggling with fertility issues should be able to avail safe, effective, and affordable ways to attain parenthood.
Despite the high global prevalence of infertility, solutions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infertility remain inaccessible to many who need it because of high costs, social stigma and limited availability, the organization stated in its report.
Currently, fertility treatments are largely funded out of pocket in most countries, resulting in catastrophic healthcare costs for many patients seeking such treatment, particularly those in poor countries. Often, high costs prevent people from accessing infertility treatments.
Dr Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, suggested that access to infertility treatment can be improved significantly with better policies and public financing.
A separate study published in the journal Human Reproduction Open revealed the high costs of infertility treatments in low and middle-income countries. The direct medical costs patients pay for a single round of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in these countries are often higher than their average annual income, it revealed.