President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged African governments to urgently integrate the issues of infertility and its treatment in the maternal and reproductive health care policies of their respective countries.
This, he said, would help in the fight against the stigmatization of women with fertility issues, insisting that the economic, psychological and socio-cultural burden on females with infertility is a setback to women empowerment and the development of the continent as a whole.
Addressing the opening of the 6th edition of the Merck Africa Asia Luminary in Accra on Tuesday, President Akufo-Addo noted that, with 50 per cent cases of a couple’s inability to conceive caused by infertility in men, the burden of the problem fell disproportionately on women.
“From being abandoned, depressed, humiliated, insulted, maltreated and stigmatised, women suffer the most… A woman who is infertile risks being treated as an outcast, and having her marriage ending,” he said, adding that, that unfortunate situation prevailing on the continent “must end.”
The President held that the factors that lead to infertility, whether anatomical, endocrinological, genetic or immunological, are not ones women wish on themselves.
“Yes, there may be other factors, such as infections to the reproductive system and poor health practices, which are preventable and may result in infertility. However, the onus is on each and every one of us to work hard towards finding solutions to addressing infertility and ending stigmatization”, he said.
In order to tackle the infertility challenge on the continent, the President suggested that more gynaecologist and reproductive embryologist have to be trained to better treat people struggling with fertility difficulties.
More importantly, he said, assisted reproductive technology, known as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), should be made affordable and more available to majority of women faced with infertility on the continent.
President Akufo-Addo appealed to First Ladies of African countries, policy makers and healthcare practitioners to join hands and win the battle against the stigmatisation of females with infertility.
The Merck Africa Asia Luminary conference, an important event on the global scientific calendar, provides the platform for brilliant engaging scientific discussions, which had raised awareness and collaboration around Diabetes, Fertility, Oncology and other health issues.
The Accra event also marks the 2nd Anniversary of Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany, focused on improving access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions for women and youth in underserved communities.
Ghana’s First lady, Madam Rebecca Akufo-Addo, is Co-Chairing the two-day event that is being attended by 10 African first ladies and over 1,000 participants, made up of health providers and other stakeholders from 58 Countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and America.