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Infertility stigma against women must end – Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Add has  appealed to Ghanaian and the rest of Africa to end the infertility sigma unleashed against women

Addressing attendees of the 6th annual conference of the Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary at the Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel under the theme; “Together for a Better Future”, President Akufo Addo said for the fact that women are the first line educators of children, it is ovbious that the African continent ultimately empowers itself when it empowers women rather than stigmatizing them.

“We are told by the World Health Organization (WHO), that One Hundred and Eight Six Million (186 Million) people around the world experience either primary or secondary infertility. We in Africa are tagged as the continent with the highest birth rate and some countries in Central and Eastern Africa are also described as “the infertility belt” of the world” the President noted. “WHO tells us again that even though infertility in men is the course of fifty percent (50%) of cases of a couples inability to conceive, the economic, psychological and socio-cultural burden “falls disproportionately on women” President Akufo Addo added.

Infertility Statistics

Backing his call with available statistics, President Akufo-Addo noted that in Côte d’Ivoire, “twenty six percent (26%) of infertile women compared with three percent (3%) of fertile women have never been married”. “In Ethiopia, it is said that on eighty five percent (85%) of childless marriages end in divorce in five years” . In Tanzania,” a childless widow may not inherit her husband’s wealth”. In South Africa, “a survey conducted revealed higher levels of anxiety, depression and anger among infertile women. In Ghana, a woman who is infertile risk been treated as an outcast and having her marriage ending”. This cases I believe are not peculiar to these countries only but are also representative of the unfortunate situation prevailing on the continent. It must end” President Akufo Addo said.

Addressing the Challenge

In order to address the infertility challenge on the African continent, President Akufo Addo suggested that the continent has a duty to introduce concrete measures aimed at helping infertile women to over they same.

“The onus is on each and every one of us to work towards finding solutions to addressing infertility and ending stigmatization. We must as a matter of necessity take urgent steps to incorporate issues regarding infertility prevention and treatment and the development of maternal and reproductive health care policies in our respective countries” the President stated.

IVR in Focus

On the issue of assisted reproductive technology, President Akufo Addo indicated that “we must most certainly make the concept which is commonly referred to as “In Vitro Fertilization” (IVF), “affordable and more available to majority of women on the continent who are faced with infertility”.

First Lady’s Take

First Lady of the Republic, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo Addo, who is also the Co-chairperson of the 6th edition of the Merck Africa Asia Luminary, in her welcome address supported the call of the President indicating that “blaming, mocking and shunning perceived infertile couples must stop”.

It is everyone’s responsibility to empower infertile couples, fight against stigmatization, change mindsets, influence national policies on fertility and build fertility capacity in Africa and developing countries” First Lady Rebecca Akufo Addo said.

CEO of Merck Foundation

Chief Executive Officer of the Merck Foundation and Co-chairperson of the 6th edition of the Merck Africa Asia Luminary, Dr. Rashad Kelej, in her remarks noted that the organization will continue to offer its flagship training programme of fertility specialists in order to assist the African continent to deal with the infertility phenomenon among her women.

The Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology.

Their efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions, building healthcare, scientific research & media capacity and empowering people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) with a special focus on women and youth in under-served communities.

Merck Foundation Strives to work closely with partners that are African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, media and art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries.

Together with its partners, the Merck Foundation supports programs that raise awareness of disease prevention and early detection through access to information, health and change of mindset. The Merck Foundation also focuses on activities that contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals as outlined by the United Nations.

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