The World Health Organization (WHO) published a new report entitled “Infertility Prevalence Estimates, 1990–2021,” which states that around 1 in 6 adults, or over 17%, struggle with infertility, which requires access to high-quality and affordable fertility care for the individuals affected.
The report also revealed a regional difference in the prevalence of infertility, further noting that infertility rates are comparable for high, middle, and low-income countries, which classified infertility as a serious worldwide health issue.
Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that “the sheer proportion of people affected shows the need to widen access to fertility care and ensure this issue is no longer sidelined in health research and policy, so that safe, effective, and affordable ways to attain parenthood are available for those who seek it.”
Despite the severity of infertility, assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other treatment options remain underfunded and inaccessible for many people because of the high cost and scarcity of these treatments, and the negative societal connotations surrounding infertility.
Nowadays, most countries require patients to pay for their own fertility treatments, which can result in disastrous financial consequences. Comparatively to people in wealthier regions, people in the poorest countries devote a larger percentage of their income to fertility care. People frequently avoid receiving infertility treatments due to high expenses, or alternatively, because seeking care may force them into poverty.
“Millions of people face catastrophic healthcare costs after seeking treatment for infertility, making this a major equity issue and all too often, a medical poverty trap for those affected,” stated Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Pascale Allotey.
The report further reveals a chronic shortage of data in several countries and regions even though it provides compelling proof of the significant global prevalence of infertility, advocating for increased availability of national data on infertility that is classified by age and reason in order to help quantify infertility, as well as to identify those in need of fertility care and how risks can be minimized.