October 22, 2021


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Experts task media on ending infertility stigma

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The Merck Foundation and fertility experts have enjoined the media to give wider coverage to fertility issues in other to end the stigma associated with them.

They gave the advice on Monday during the foundation’s virtual health media training organised on the sidelines of the 8th edition of the Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation and President of Merck More Than a Mother, said women without children are often placed under pressure, and suffer abuse, discrimination and stigma from their husbands, in-laws, the community and the society.

Dr Kelej, who is also the co-chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary, said the media training was organised for African and Latin American journalists to emphasise the role the media plays in creating a cultural shift as well as in raising awareness on infertility prevention, and empowering girls and women through education, as well as breaking the stigma around infertility.

She said 85 per cent of infertility cases are due to untreated diseases that result from child marriage, female genital mutilation, abortion, unsafe delivery, and untreated sexually transmitted infections.

“All these can be prevented to reduce infertility.

And if infertility does happen, it can be managed if diagnosed early,” she said.

Dr Edem Hiadzi, President Fertility Society of Ghana (FERSOG) and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist said 20 to 30 per cent of infertility cases happen in sub-Saharan Africa.

He said infertility affects men and women equally, at 50-50 per cent, and that both of them should seek help when there is a delay or they have difficulty having children.

“Men should support their wives; don’t let them go alone to the hospital. Go with her to the hospital and find out what the problem is because it may even be from your end,” he advised.

Dr Wanjiru Ndengwa, an IVF specialist and gynaecologist in Kenya urged the media to enlighten couples to seek fertility experts, not traditional healers if they have been trying and do not achieve conception after one year; and six months if they are 35 years and older.

She said it is unfair that women are mostly called sterile and stigmatised despite the fact that men and women have fertility problems.

She said stigma causes a lot of heartache and problems in families, as well as violence and psychological abuse for the women.