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A review of management of infertility in Nigeria: framing the ethics of a national health policy

Authors Akinloye O , Truter

Published 11 August 2011 Volume 2011:3 Pages 265—275


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 5

Oluyemi Akinloye1,2, Ernest J Truter2
1Department of Chemical Pathology, Reproductive and Molecular Endocrinology Unit, College of Health Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria; 2Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Wellness Science, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville Campus, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract: Infertility has recently been construed to be a serious problem in sub-Saharan Africa. This problem seems to be viewed as of low priority with reference to the effective and efficient allocation of available health resources by national governments as well as by international donors sponsoring either research or service delivery in the public health sector. In this paper the problem of infertility in Nigeria is surveyed with a view to assessing the ethical dimension of proposals to manage infertility as a public sector priority in health care delivery. The population/individual and public/private distinction in the formulation of health policy has ethical implications that cannot simply be ignored and are therefore engaged in critically assessing the problem of infertility. Cost–utility analysis (such as Quality Adjusted Life-Year composite index) in the management of infertility in Nigeria entails the need for caution relevant to the country's efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals. This should remain the case whether the ethical evaluation appeals to utilitarian or contractarian (Rawlsian) principles. The "worst off" category of Nigerians includes (1) underweight children less than 5 years of age, with special concern for infants (0–1 years of age) and (2) the proportion of the population below a minimum level of dietary consumption. The Rawlsian ethic implies that any Federal Ministry of Health policy aimed at establishing public programs for infertility management can be considered a "fair" allocation and expenditure if, and only if, the situation for these two cohorts is not thereby made worse. Nigerian health policy cannot assume this type of increased allocation of its resources to infertility care without it being hard pressed to warrant defensible moral or rational argument.

Keywords: infertility, bioethics, health policy, Nigeria

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