Introducing assisted reproductive technologies in The Gambia, a survey on the perspectives of Gambian healthcare professionals and medical students

Haddy Bittaye (Lead / Corresponding author), Jason P. Mooney, Anna Afferri, Julie Balen, Vanessa Kay

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Abstract

Background: Infertility remains a global reproductive health burden with the highest prevalence in low and middle-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, the ability to procreate holds great societal importance. Couples, and particularly women, with infertility can face devastating challenges, leading to social stigma, isolation and/or divorce. However, attention to addressing infertility is lacking in sub-Saharan Africa. In The Gambia, where this study is based, little is known about the potential for introduction of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in the public health sector.

Methods: A quantitative survey was conducted using detailed questionnaires on infertility services available, staff knowledge, perceived barriers, and personal motivation to support assisted reproductive technologies. Data was collected electronically between April and June 2021 from healthcare providers (n = 70) in eleven health facilities throughout the country, as well as from medical students (n = 55) enrolled at The University of The Gambia.

Results: Basic infertility services were found to be lacking in the rural areas. Furthermore, 39% of staff (n = 27) providing fertility care had not receive any formal training on the topic. However, 91% of staff (n = 64) showed interest in acquiring additional knowledge and had a positive attitude towards supporting the introduction of ART. Perceived challenges of doing so included: (i) the competing importance of other health priorities; and (ii) religious and cultural barriers.

Conclusion: This survey highlights that expansion of infertility services is needed, especially in rural areas. Staff perceived the introduction of ART as important, but this should be coupled with specialized training, as most medical staff had not received any formal infertility training. Future care providers (current medical students) showed both interest in ART and reported having received some basic training in infertility management. Given the reported lack of infrastructure and services, additional targeted investment in infertility care, including ART, will be needed to improve reproductive health for all, countrywide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number203
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Female
  • Gambia
  • Students, Medical
  • Health Personnel
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted
  • Health Priorities
  • Infertility/therapy
  • Medical students
  • The Gambia
  • ART
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Survey
  • Infertility
  • IVF
  • LMIC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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