One in six people worldwide is affected by infertility -WHO

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By Alfred Koroma

One in six people worldwide is affected by infertility, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday, in a  new report. The Agency also warned that access to affordable care is insufficient, the UN World Health Organization.

Studies compiled by the Agency on infertility from 1990 to 2021 shows that 17.5 percent of the adultpopulation experience infertility in their lifetime and that the rates are comparable for high, middle and low-income countries.

People in thepoorest countries spend a greater proportion of their income onfertility care than those in wealthier countries, the report says.

Also, data from a separate new research quoted by the health Agency shows that a single round of IVF, can cost morethan the average annual income.

According to UN, Infertility, which affects men and women, is a reproductive condition defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.

 “The report reveals an important truth – infertility does not discriminate,” WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is quoted by UN News, saying: “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.”

WHO report that despite the prevalence of infertility, diagnosis and treatment remain underfundedand patients find themselves priced out. Many have no choice but to cover the costs out of pocket, often with devastating consequences.

According to Dr Pascale Allotey, WHO’s Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, millions of people face catastrophic healthcare costsafter treatment for infertility and all too often, a “medical poverty trap”.

Dr Allottey advocated for the condition to become a priority for universal health coverage, saying better policies and public financing can significantly improve access to treatment and protect poorer households from falling into poverty as a result.

“Apart from financial hardship,” UN News report that WHO stressed infertility is also linked to distress and stigma, as well as an increased risk of intimate partner violence.

 “Fertility care is a corepart of sexual and reproductive health and responding to infertility can mitigate gender inequality,” WHO’s report.

Not only are services insufficiently available, but so is adequate research. WHO highlights a persistentlack of data related to infertility in many countries.

To remedy this, WHO has called for better national infertility statistics which be “disaggregated by age and by cause” in order to target interventions and support prevention.

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