Not being able to have a child is a personal problem… and a global one, since a large number of people are affected by the infertility throughout his life, according to a new report published today by the World Health Organization (WHO) that has put this situation into figures. Specifically, about 17.5% of the adult population, approximately 1 in 6 worldwide, experience infertility, demonstrating the urgent need to increase access to a affordable fertility care and high quality for those who need it.
We are talking about a global health challenge, since the new estimates show limited variation in the prevalence of infertility between regions. Rates are comparable for high-, middle-, and low-income countries. The lifetime prevalence was 17.8% in high-income countries and 16.5% in low- and middle-income countries.
infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system, defined as the inability to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse. It can cause significant distress, stigma and financial hardship, affecting people’s mental and psychosocial well-being.
“The report reveals an important truth: infertility does not discriminate,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “The large proportion of people affected shows the need to expand access to fertility care and ensure that this problem is no longer neglected in health research and policy, so that safe, effective and affordable ways of achieving parenthood are available to those seeking it. ”
Despite the magnitude of the problem, solutions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infertility, including assisted reproductive technology such as fertilization in vitro (FIV)remain underfunded and inaccessible to many due to high costs, social stigma and limited availability.
Infertility: Medical Poverty Trap
Today, in most countries, fertility treatments are largely financed out of pocket, often resulting in devastating financial costs. People in the poorest countries spend a higher proportion of their income on fertility care compared to people in the richest countries. High costs often prevent people from accessing infertility treatment or, alternatively, can catapult them into poverty as a consequence of seeking care.
“Millions of people face catastrophic healthcare costs after seeking infertility treatment, making this a significant equity issue and, all too often, a medical poverty trap for those affected,” said Dr. Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. including the United Nations Special Program for Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP). “Better policies and public financing can significantly improve access to treatment and protect the poorest households from falling into poverty as a result.
While the new report shows compelling evidence of the high global prevalence of infertility, it highlights a persistent lack of data in many countries and some regions. Calls for greater availability of national infertility data disaggregated by age and cause to help quantify infertility, as well as to know who needs fertility care and how risks can be reduced.