Claim: A news report by a Swaziland newspaper, Swazi Observer, claims the World Health Organization (WHO) will classify people who struggle to find a sexual partner, do not get pregnant after 12 months or more of unprotected sex as disabled.
WHO does not consider people who cannot find a sexual partner as disabled. According to a WHO representative for Kenya Dr. Rudi Eggers, they do not classify infertility as a disability, since disability is neither simply a biological nor a social phenomenon.
A resurfaced news article claims that the World Health Organization (WHO) will regard people who do not have sex or struggle to find a sexual partner disabled.
The article further cites reports that under the new guidelines, the World Health Organization is set to release people who are unable to find a suitable sexual partner or achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex will also be regarded as disabled.
First, we sought to find out what the definition of disability is according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The World Health Organization describes disability as difficulties encountered in any or all three areas of functioning, which are impairments, activity and participation limitations.
Throwing more light on the areas, WHO says “Impairments are problems in body function or alterations in body structure, for example, paralysis or blindness. Activity limitations are difficulties in executing activities, for example, walking or eating, and participation restrictions are problems with involvement in any area of life, for example, facing discrimination in employment or transportation”.
Clearly, no mention is made of the inability to find a sexual partner or to get pregnant as disabilities.
We also looked out for what WHO says about being infertile since the claim purported that the inability to conceive after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex a disability.
We found a statement issued on February 5, 2020 indicating that infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”
It further emphasized that, even though WHO is currently developing guidelines on the issue of infertility, the guidelines will not affect the definition of infertility in relation to disability.
“WHO is not planning to make any changes to the definition of infertility. WHO is currently developing guidelines on the diagnosis and management of infertility. These guidelines will not revise the definition of infertility,” the statement said.
Also, cited in a fact check by Africa Check, Dr. Rudi Eggers, the WHO representative for Kenya, stated that “WHO does not classify infertility as a disability, since disability is neither simply a biological nor a social phenomenon”.
“Although infertility is an impairment of biological function, WHO does not classify infertility as a disability, since disability is neither simply a biological nor a social phenomenon,” he added.
Similarly, a fact check by Reuters also flagged the claim as false.
Meanwhile, we have contacted the Regional Office of WHO in Ghana to find out if there has been an update in WHO’s stance on the matter. Thus, this fact check will be updated if their response supports the claim.
Clearly, the claim that people who struggle to find a sexual partner and or achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sex will be considered disabled is false.
This report was produced under the Dubawa Student Fact-checking Project aimed at offering students in tertiary schools aspiring to take up roles in the profession the opportunity to acquire real-world experience through verification and fact-checking.