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16 in Every 100 People Affected by Infertility-WHO Report

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A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that one in six people globally is affected by infertility. The report estimates that about 10-16% of couples are affected by infertility, which is similar to the global prevalence rate of 17.5%. Speaking on the development, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General at WHO notes, “The sheer proportion of people affected show 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.”

Infertility which is defined as the inability to conceive after at least one year of unprotected sex, can be caused by a variety of factors, which includes age, genetic disorders, infections, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and poor nutrition.

“The global burden of infertility is a major public health issue that has been largely neglected,” said the WHO Director-General.

“Infertility not only affects individuals and couples, but also has wider social and economic consequences, including increased health care costs and reduced productivity,” he continued.

The WHO report highlights the need for greater awareness, education, and access to infertility treatment options, especially in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria. The report notes that infertility can have a significant impact on the mental health and well-being of individuals and couples, and can also lead to social stigma and discrimination.

“Infertility is a condition that affects millions of people around the world, but it is often overlooked or dismissed as a private matter,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus. “We need to break the silence around infertility and ensure that people are aware of their options for diagnosis and treatment.”

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Infertility treatment options include assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), which can be costly and inaccessible to many people and other African countries.

“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,” said Dr. Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, including the United Nations Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP).

“Better policies and public financing can significantly improve access to treatment and protect poorer households from falling into poverty as a result.” He concluded

To address the issue, the WHO recommends increased investment in infertility research, education, and services. This includes improving access to basic infertility investigations and treatments, as well as addressing social and cultural barriers to seeking care.

“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,” said Dr Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, including the United Nations’ Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP). “Better policies and public financing can significantly improve access to treatment and protect poorer households from falling into poverty as a result.”

“We need to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live or their income level, has access to high-quality infertility care,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus. “This will require political will, strategic investments, and a multi-sectoral approach that involves governments, civil society, and the private sector.”

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The report also emphasizes the importance of addressing the underlying causes of infertility, such as improving maternal and child health, preventing and treating sexually transmitted infections, and promoting healthy lifestyles.

With the global prevalence of infertility at such a high rate, it is crucial that action is taken to address this issue and ensure that individuals and couples affected by infertility receive the care and support they need.

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