President Akufo-Addo has appealed to first ladies of fellow African countries, policy makers and healthcare practitioners to join hands and win the battle against the stigmatisation of females with infertility.
With the World Health Organisation indicating that 186 million around the world suffering from either primary or secondary infertility.
50% of cases of a couple’s inability to conceive is caused by infertility in men, the President stated that the economic, psychological and social-cultural burdens “fall disproportionately on women”.
Speaking at the 6th Edition of the Merck Africa Asia Luminary in Accra, the President stated that “from being abandoned, depressed, humiliated, insulted, maltreated and stigmatised, women suffer the most”.
It is estimated in Cote d’Ivoire, for example, that 26% of infertile women, compared with 3% of fertile women, have never been married.
In Ethiopia, it is said that 85% of childless marriages end in divorce in 5 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 amongst infertile women.
In Ghana, a woman who is infertile risks being treated as an outcast, and having her marriage ending.
These cases are not peculiar to these countries only, but are also representative of the unfortunate situation prevailing on the continent.
The factors that lead to infertility, whether anatomical, endocrinological, genetic or immunological, he said, 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 added.
As a matter of necessity, the President urged participants at the conference to “take urgent steps to incorporate issues regarding infertility prevention and its treatment in the development of maternal and reproductive healthcare policies of our respective countries.”
He continued “we need to train more gynaecologists and embryologists, and we must, most certainly, make assisted reproductive technology, often referred to as in vitro fertilization (IVF), affordable and more available to the majority of women on the continent, who are faced with infertility.”
Whilst working towards confronting issues of infertility in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana is also raising awareness on disease prevention, and improving access to quality and equitable health solutions.