Research page
Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy

Democratising access to healthcare: Infertility, childlessness, and treatment seeking in resource-poor settings in Nepal and India

  • Project Lead: Aditya Bharadwaj,Christine Lutringer

  • Timeline: 2018-2020

  • Keywords: Democracy and health, Public policies, Democratic participation, Gender, Human rights, Community action

  • Funding Organisation: Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS)

  • Partners: Cornell University; International Foundation for Population and Development (IFPD), Geneva; SAMA, India; University of Geneva; UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) ; WOREC, Nepal



This project explores the democratisation of access to quality essential healthcare services in South Asia. It seeks to explain the neglected incidence of infertility in resource-poor settings of Nepal and India. As Infertility in the developing South has remained largely invisible as a major reproductive health challenge and a serious public health concern, the overall aim of the project is to contribute to a robust and in-depth understanding of infertility as a major public health concern and how it creates conditions for social marginalization and impacts well-being and social integration. Our research sites offer an unprecedented opportunity to make research-led interventions into the silent but swift emergence of preventable infertility burdens in the developing South. The cross-national perspective is essential for supporting data-driven policy formulation and from the perspective of fostering proactive outreach activities.

We examine infertility as a public health issue with profound cultural, social, technological, and policy dimensions. The research is built around a multi-sited ethnographic methodology that maps the infertility terrain and its correlates through identifying and linking a diverse set of stakeholders. The team has strong partners in NGOs working within the framework of human rights perspective with a strong understanding of ground realities and years of active field experience in policy framing. Throughout the project activities we aim to bring the voices and the experiences of marginalised communities to the policy sphere, at local and national levels with a view to influence the ongoing policy debate in India and Nepal.