Dr Rasha Kelej
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Merck Foundation, Dr Rasha Kelej, has called for media support to end the stigma associated with infertility on the African continent.
According to her, the time is ripe for a shift in mindset around the issue. “The media needs to lead the change in the narrative about infertility and lead the discussion that would bring about prevention, no stigma and better treatment options for couples,” she underscored.
Speaking at the maiden ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ media awards and training in Nairobi Kenya, Dr Kelej pointed out that the role of the media in demystifying the cultural and traditional stigma associated with women who are not able to get pregnant was important in finding a solution to the reproductive challenge.
She emphasized that without the media coming on board, ending the humiliation many African women are made to go through because of their infertility will be an unlikely event.
“Not only husbands mistreat women (due to infertility), mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law can also influence their son or brother to harass his wife because she cannot have children. All this has to change,” she said.
Dr Kelej said research has shown that men also contribute to the infertility situation of their families just as the women, adding that a little bit of information can save lives, bring happiness and change culture and beliefs about infertility.
“From today, let’s talk about infertility until it becomes normal thing to talk about,” she said.
Dr Kelej, therefore, added that the training will prepare the media to advocate and raise awareness by sensitising citizens on infertility prevention, treatment options and the role of men and women in the fight.
Globally, 160 million couples suffer from infertility, with most of these coming from developing and poor nations.
In sub-Saharan Africa, untreated sexually transmitted disease/ infection are responsible for up to 85 percent of infertility in women.
Merck Media Awards
Merck Foundation also recognised journalists whose work made an impact in addressing the issue of infertility in its maiden awards ceremony.
Multimedia, print, radio, online journalists and students from African countries like Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Mozambique were rewarded for their efforts in bringing to the fore the hardly-spoken about issue of infertility.
Dr Kelej later announced the second edition of the awards which is opened to all English-speaking African countries.
From Jamila Akweley Okertchiri, Nairobi Kenya