Around the world, about one in six people suffer from infertility, a “major health problem” that urgently requires “access to high-quality, affordable treatment.” This was stated by the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, commenting on the first report on the subject published by the Geneva-based organization, covering the period 1990-2021.

Infertility is a real “major health problem,” affecting 17.8 percent of the adult population in wealthy countries and 16.5 percent in low- and middle-income countries, thus millions of people worldwide. The paper highlights the “high global prevalence” of infertility, but there is also a lack of data in many countries, including Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

“This report, the first of its kind in 10 years, is indicative of an important fact: infertility does not discriminate,” Tedros pointed out. Indeed, the inability to have a child at some point in one’s life affects one in six people on a global scale, no matter where they live or what resources they have. The proportion of human beings affected by the issue is such that, according to Tedros, “there is a need to expand access to fertility care and to ensure that this problem is no longer sidelined in research and health policy, so that safe, effective and affordable ways of achieving parenthood are available for those who desire it.”

According to the WHO, this is indeed a “still under-researched topic whose solutions remain underfunded and inaccessible to many due to high costs, social stigma and limited availability.” The report does not examine the medical, environmental or other causes of infertility, or how it changes over time, but it gives an initial analysis of its prevalence by analyzing all relevant studies from the past 30 years.

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