top of page
















About the study

Sub-Saharan Africa is a zone of high infertility (some estimates suggest 30-40% of couples) suffer from  infertility) and children are highly valued, yet access to effective treatments for local  people suffering from infertility remains poor and restricted to the wealthy and mobile.


At the same time, South Africa is an important hub of international travel for assisted reproductive procedures, particularly egg donation, including travel by Australians. The study includes an analysis of the development of the assisted reproductive industry, surveys of the numbers of international patients travelling to clinics in South Africa in cooperation with 9 South African infertility clinics and interviews with staff, patients, gamete donors, and facilitating agencies.  

This study is anticipated to provide theoretical insights on the social impacts of reproductive travel across national borders for assisted reproduction. It also provides information for improved policy responses within Southern Africa  on issues such as training and capacity building needs within SSA for fertility specialists and embryologists; improvement of access and reflection on initiatives such as low-cost IVF protocols in SSA and regulation of cross border travel for ARTS.


Results will also inform policymakers through The European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) Taskforce for Infertility Care in the Global South. A major conference is planned with the University of the Witwatersrand and The University of Pretoria in 2024. In Australia the project will report upon the reasons for travel of Australians to South Africa for ova donation, the information needs and support they require and reflect upon the effects of local policies and regulation upon this travel.

At the start of 2023, we had completed 75 interviews with patients, medical staff, ova donors and key informants. We hope to finish data collection later this year. We are currently coding and analysing our interview data.

Who are we?



Professor Andrea Whittaker is a Professor in the Monash University School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and is the Director of the Social and Political Science Higher Degree by Research program.  She has achieved international standing in the field of medical anthropology and is a former ARC Future Fellow.  Her current research projects include the study of global medical trade and mobility, oocyte mobilities in Southern Africa and reproductive travel and biotechnologies in the Asia Pacific. Prof. Whittaker is a chief investigator on this project. For further information see







Dr Karin Hammarberg  has over 20 years’ clinical experience as a registered nurse coordinating reproductive treatment programs. Since completing her PhD in 2006 she has conducted numerous qualitative and quantitative studies on the social aspects of ART. Dr. Hammarberg is a member of two Monash Centers of Research Excellence: Women and Non-Communicable Diseases (WaND) and Sexual and Reproductive Health for Women in Primary Care (SPHERE). She works with the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) producing accessible resources about fertility, infertility and infertility treatment. Dr. Hammarberg is a chief investigator on this project. For more information see







Professor Lenore Manderson is a distinguished Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology in the School of Public Health, at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She joined Wits as a member of faculty in 2014. Previously, from 2004-2013, she was an honorary professor and, in 2008, the Hillel Friedland Senior Fellow at the University. Prof. Manderson is also an adjunct professor at Monash University.  Prof. Manderson is a principal investigator on the project. For more information see



Associate Professor Trudie Gerrits  is based in the Anthropology Department at the University of Amsterdam. Since 1993 most of her own research publications and supervision of several PhD and Masters theses have been related to reproduction, infertility and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) in particular. Prof. Gerrits is a principal investigator on this project. For further information  see







Dr. Tessa Moll  is a medical anthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand. Since 2014, she has been researching the fertility industry and experiences of reproductive technologies in South Africa, for which she received her PhD in Social Anthropology in 2020. She is currently completing her first book, that will be published by Rutgers,  a monograph on reproductive politics, fertility care, and race in the afterlife of apartheid. Dr. Moll is a post doctoral fellow on this project.





Ms. Cal Volks is a Counsellor, Project Manager and Social Science Researcher completing an Australian Research Council funded PhD that investigates  experiences of Australians egg and sperm donors who have had early contact (under the age of 18) with their donor conceived children.  Cal was previously the director an HIV/AIDS, sexual & reproductive health unit at the University of Cape Town from 1994 until 2016. Cal is the RA on the project. For more information see

download (5).jpg
download (3).jpg
download (4).jpg
cal book cover (2).jpg
bottom of page