The Sunday Mail
This month, infertility takes centre stage as the world commemorates World Infertility Awareness Month.
In June infertility issues faced by people around the world each year are highlighted, clearing the misconception that infertility affects only a small part of the population, but as many as 48.5 million couples experience some form of infertility.
Addressing journalists, Merck Foundation chief executive officer, Dr Rasha Kelej, said World Infertility Awareness Month will be an annual event with health partners.
Dr Kelej called for the creation of a culture shift and to break infertility stigma against women and couples in general, in concordance with Merck Foundation’s More than a Mother flagship programme which was created to eliminate stigma in Africa.
She pointed out that women are discriminated against, abused, because of their inability to have a child, when it takes both a man and woman to do so.
“What we are saying is, it takes men and women to have a child. And men contribute 40 percent while women also contribute 40 percent with the 20 percent as environmental reasons. Why, then, do we target only women as the cause of infertility,” Dr Kelej said.
She said that infertility in Africa is very high and caused by various factors, including untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among others.
Tubal factors, which are blockages, or obstructions in the fallopian tubes, also play a part in infertility. Blockages can be caused by endometriosis, pelvic infection, or a previous pelvis surgery.
In Zimbabwe Merck Foundation together with First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa provided around 100 scholarships of one-year diploma and two-year master degree in many critical and underserved medical specialties including fertility and embryology, oncology, diabetes, preventive cardiovascular, endocrinology, sexual and reproductive medicine, respiratory medicine, acute medicine, and clinical microbiology, infectious diseases and more to young doctors.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Lynn Chipendo’s song on breaking infertility stigma won third prize at the Merck Foundation’s song awards announced yesterday.
Fourteen other winners also scooped various prizes.
“I am extremely happy to announce today the winners of our Merck Foundation song awards “More Than a Mother” and “Diabetes and Hypertension” in partnership with my dear sisters, African First Ladies. Congratulations to all 15 winners. We received several entries from talented singers and musicians from across Africa.
“I appreciate all the work created by the young talents, their efforts are visible in the quality of music they have produced and the lyrics have beautifully conveyed important social messages on the theme of the awards,” said Dr Kelej.
The theme of “More Than a Mother” song awards was to raise awareness on social issues that include breaking infertility stigma, supporting girl education and women empowerment.
Other social issues include ending child marriage, ending female genital mutilation (FGM), and/or stopping gender based violence (GBV) at all levels.
The theme of “Diabetes and Hypertension” song awards was to promote a healthy lifestyle and raise awareness about prevention and early detection of Diabetes and Hypertension in African countries.
“I have always believed that through music and art, problems can be felt, which further stimulates feelings and leads to engagement and action. Hence, we introduced our song awards. We have also produced over 30 songs and music videos to address many of these critical and sensitive issues in Africa” added Dr Kelej.