A new report published by the World Health Organisation reveals that around 17.5% of the adult population –that is roughly 1 in 6 persons worldwide – experience infertility in their lifetime.
Infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system, defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
Despite the magnitude of the issue, solutions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infertility – including assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) – remain underfunded and inaccessible to many due to high costs, social stigma and limited availability.
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, says “The report reveals an important truth: infertility does not discriminate.”
According to the report, in most countries, fertility treatments are largely funded out of pocket – often resulting in devastating financial costs.
People in the poorest countries spend a greater proportion of their income on fertility care compared to people in wealthier countries.
WHO’s Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, Pascale Allotey, says 1 in 6 people is a significant number. She adds that the organisation is calling for greater policy prioritisation of infertility, as well as greater access to infertility services.