Access to Infertility Care in the Developing World: The Family Promotion Gap

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Abstract

Infertility in resource-poor settings is an overlooked global health problem. Although scarce health care resources must be deployed thoughtfully, prioritization of resources may be different for recipient and donor countries, the latter of whom focus on maternal health care, prevention, and family planning. For women and couples with involuntary childlessness, the negative psychosocial, sociocultural, and economic consequences in low-income countries are severe, possibly more so than in most Western societies. Despite the local importance of infertility, few resources are committed to help advance infertility care in regions like sub-Saharan Africa. The worldwide prevalence of infertility is remarkably similar across low-, middle-, and high-income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes infertility as a global health problem and established universal access to reproductive health care as one of the United Nation's Millennium Developmental Goals for 2015. Currently, access to infertility care is varied and is usually only attainable by the very wealthy in low-income countries. We provide an overview on the current state of access to infertility care in low-income countries such as in sub-Saharan Africa and a rationale for providing comprehensive reproductive care and possible solutions for providing cost-effective infertility services in these settings.

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