Around one in six people worldwide suffer from infertility, raising the urgent need to increase access to affordable, high-quality care, the World Health Organization argued on Tuesday.

“One in six people in the world is affected by the inability to have a child at some point in life. And this, regardless of where they live and the resources at their disposal”, underlined WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in the preface to a new report.

It is, according to the WHO, a real “major health problem”, which affects 17.8% of the adult population in rich countries and 16.5% in low and middle income countries.

“This report, the first of its kind in a decade, is indicative of an important fact: infertility does not discriminate,” Dr. Tedros emphasized.

The report does not look at the medical, environmental or other causes of infertility, or how it changes over time, but provides a first look at its prevalence by analyzing all relevant studies from 1990 to 2021.

It shows that “infertility affects a large part of the world’s population” since the issue concerns approximately 17.5% of the adult population.

“Infertility affects millions of people” and yet, Dr. Tedros pointed out, “the topic is still understudied and solutions remain underfunded and inaccessible to many due to high costs, social stigma and stigma. limited availability”.

“The sheer proportion of those affected shows the need to expand access to fertility care and to ensure that this issue is no longer sidelined in health research and policy, so that safe ways , effective and affordable ways of achieving parenthood are available to those who want them,” he asked.

Infertility is, according to the WHO, “a disease of the male or female reproductive system, defined as the inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. This can lead to major distress, stigma and financial hardship.

“Procreation is accompanied by significant social pressure. In some countries, pregnancy remains essential to the perception of femininity and what a couple is. Failure is often stigmatized”, said Dr Pascale Allotey , WHO’s Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health, presenting the report to journalists.

“People with an infertility problem often suffer from anxiety and depression” and there is also “an increased risk of domestic violence which is associated with infertility”, she added.

WHO calls on countries to scale up solutions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infertility? including assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization.

“We want to make sure we break the silence on infertility, ensuring it is included in sexual and reproductive health policies, services and funding,” Dr Gitau Mburu told reporters, of the WHO.

Although the new report presents data attesting to the “high global prevalence” of infertility, it highlights a lack of data in many countries, including in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

It calls on countries to ensure that more data on infertility, disaggregated by age and cause, is available to help quantify the problem, as well as find out who needs fertility care and how the risks may be reduced.

04/04/2023 07:58:48 – Geneva (AFP) – © 2023 AFP