Global access to infertility care in developing countries: a case of human rights, equity and social justice


Developing countries, equity, government, human rights, infertility treatment, involuntary childlessness, low cost ART, social justice.

W. Ombelet1,2

1Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Schiepse Bos 6, 3600 Genk, Belgium.

2Chairman of “The Walking Egg non-profit organization”.


According to WHO data more than 180 million couples in developing countries suffer from primary or secondary infertility. The social stigma of childlessness still leads to isolation and abandonment in many developing countries. Differences between the developed and developing world are emerging because of the different availability in in- fertility care and different socio-cultural value surrounding procreation and childlessness.

Although reproductive health education and prevention of infertility are number one priorities, the need for acces- sible diagnostic procedures and new reproductive technologies (ART) is very high. The success and sustainability of ART in resource-poor settings will depend to a large extend on our ability to optimise these techniques in terms of availability, affordability and effectiveness.

Accessible infertility treatment can only be successfully introduced in developing countries if socio-cultural and economic prerequisites are fulfilled and governments can be persuaded to support their introduction. We have to liaise with the relevant authorities to discuss the strengthening of infertility services, at the core of which lies the integration of infertility, contraceptive and maternal health services within public health care structures.

After a fascinating period of more than 30 years of IVF, only a small part of the world population benefits from these new technologies. Time has come to give equitable access to effective and safe infertility care in resource-poor countries as well.