By Abdi Ali
Published March 11, 2016
An all-African initiative aimed at reducing stigma against infertile women has been launched in Uganda.
The campaign, dubbed â€œMore than a Motherâ€, seeks to build fertility capacity, raise awareness about infertility prevention, and open dialogue to define interventions to reduce the stigma and social suffering of infertile women.
Germanyâ€™s Merck pharmaceutical and chemical company who are spear-heading the campaign, says it shall also offer advanced embryology training for Africans, starting with Kenya and Uganda, before expanding to the rest of Africa.
â€œCountless women in Africa face fear, abuse and discrimination every day simply because they are infertile,â€ says BelÃ©n Garijo, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Healthcare. â€œAfter Kenya, we are proud to launch the More than a Mother campaign in Uganda and work with the Ministry of Health, the medical community and parliamentarians to change perceptions and reduce the harsh social suffering of infertile women in Africa.â€
The campaign is rolled out in Uganda by Merck in collaboration with the countryâ€™s Ministry of Health, Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) and Africa Fertility Society (AFS).
Sarah Opendi, Ugandaâ€™s Minister of State for Health, says, â€œWe believe that Merck More than a Mother campaign addresses a very sensitive topic for the first time in Africa. This initiative will help to empower infertile women by improving access to information and change in the culture and mind set.â€
Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer with Merck Healthcare, says, â€œMerck will provide training for African embryologists in Indonesia starting with candidates from Uganda and Kenya and will scale up to the rest of the continent. It will also provide education for healthcare providers which will improve basic fertility management and improve awareness about prevention and male infertility which is needed in Africa.â€
Dr Ivans Sini, President of Indonesian Reproductive Science Institute (IRSI), observes, â€We are very happy to partner with Merck to provide this high technology training to develop African embryologists to be able together to improve access to quality and safe fertility care in Africa.â€
Betty Amongi, Chairperson of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, emphasizes, â€œWe will partner with Merck and Ministry of Health to define policies to improve access to safe and effective fertility care, address the need for interventions to reduce stigmatization and social suffering of infertile women and raise awareness about male infertility and the necessity for a team approach to family building among couplesâ€.
Dr James Olobo-Lalobo, Vice-President of Africa Fertility Society stresses, â€œTogether with Merck, we can challenge the perception about infertile women, their roles and worth in society, both within and beyond the medical profession in order to achieve any systemic shift in the current culture of gender discrimination in the context of fertility care.â€