Barriers to access to infertility care and assisted reproductive technology within the public health sector in Brazil

Keywords:

Barriers, inequity, infertility care, IVF, low-income populations, public health.

M.Y. Makuch1, L. Bahamondes2

1Centre for Research in Reproductive Health of Campinas (CEMICAMP).

2Human Reproduction Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Medical School, University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Brazil.

Abstract

Background: In Brazil, access to infertility care, including assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), is restricted. This is the third report of a study on access to infertility care and ARTs within the public sector, focusing on the barriers to these services. Methods: The study was anchored on quantitative and qualitative methods. For the quantitative study interviews were conducted with health authorities in each of the 26 states, the Federal District, the state capitals and 16 cities with ≥ 500,000 inhabitants and directors of infertility referral centres within the public sector. Qualitative case studies were conducted in five ART centres.

Results: Overall, 63.5% of the authorities reported that complex infertility treatments were unavailable. Barriers identified consisted of “lack of political decision to implement them”, and “lack of financial resources”. In addition, 75% reported to have “no plans to implement them over the next 12 months”. At the facilities offering ART, the barriers to these procedures were the high costs, long waiting times, complex scheduling processes and lack of initiative to implement low cost ARTs.

Conclusions: Infertile couples’ access to ART procedures is restricted due to the insufficient services and lack of political commitment to support existing and new services.