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1 in 6 People Globally Affected by Infertility, Finds WHO Report

New estimates show that rates of infertility are comparable in low, middle, and high income countries.

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Nearly one in six people around the world is affected by infertility, according to a new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), on 4 April.

The new estimates, using data from 1990 - 2021, underscores the worrying global increase in rates of infertility – defined as a failure to achieve pregnancy after trying for over a year.

Why is infertility on the rise? Who is impacted? FIT breaks it down.

Key findings of the report:

  • 17.5 percent of the adult population in the world is affected by infertility.

There isn't much variation in rates of infertility by region, and income.

  • High-income countries estimated 17.8 percent

  • Low- and middle-income countries recorded 16.5 percent

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Between the lines: The new estimates show that rising rates of infertility is a global issue, and not restricted to some regions.

"The report reveals an important truth: infertility does not discriminate,"said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO.

The report also suggests there isn't enough granulated data on infertility, by age and by cause, in many countries which makes it difficult to accurately guage the true extent of the issue.

Why does it matter?

While infertility rates are on the rise the world over, solutions of it are largely inaccessible to large populations.

Treatment options such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) aren't available everywhere, and come at high costs.

There is also stigma attached to fertility treatments in many parts of the world, which adds to hesitancy.

In most countries, fertility treatments are not covered in public healthcare, nor offered by employees.

According to the WHO, this results in people in poorer countries having to shell out large parts of their income on fertility treatment compared to people in wealthier countries.

"Better policies and public financing can significantly improve access to treatment and protect poorer households from falling into poverty as a result."
Dr Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  WHO   Infertility   Infertility in India 

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