Medical experts have urged communities to end infertility stigma and empower infertile women and couple through access to information, education, health and change of mindset.
The experts at the Joint Yearly Summit of Merck Foundation (More Than a Mother) and Africa Reproductive Care Society (ARCS), held virtually on March 31, discussed the challenges and defined solutions to improve access to quality and equitable infertility care via building fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.
The experts led by President of ARCS, and President of The Nigerian Academy of Medicine Specialties (NAMS), Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother and Chairperson of ARCS, Dr. Rasha Kelej, highlighted preventive care in reproductive medicine, raised awareness on male infertility and discussed climate change and toxin environmental exposures.
The summit was held in collaboration with the International Federation of Gynaecology (FIGO) and the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS).
The Summit was live streamed and broadcast across all Merck Foundation Social media channels and covered by television (TV).
Ashiru said the main objective to di-stigmatise infertility, strengthen human capital in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in Africa by training more clinical embryologists and empower brutalised infertile women who have passed the child bearing age.
Through ‘Empowering Berna’ project, “Merck More than a Mother” empowers infertile women socially and economically.
“Merck More than a Mother” aims to improve access to information, education, healthcare and change of mind-set to break the stigma around infertility.
Ashiru said: “Today, history is being made again in the progress of Reproductive Health in Africa. I am happy to see fertility specialists, doctors, embryologists, journalists who are health reporters, and several community leaders from over 37 countries in Africa in attendance at this first year Summit of Merck Foundation and ARCS.
“…Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej and I met in 2014 at a MERCK FOUNDATION “more than a mother” campaign to de-stigmatise infertility in Africa. Since then, we discovered our mutual interest in improving assisted reproductive technology capacity and Fertility practitioners in Africa. They have since helped to train several young IVF doctors and Embryologists in Africa and established IVF Clinics. We decided to co-find the ARCS as a Society with multidisciplinary participation to include doctors, scientists, fertility professionals, embryologists, nurses, fertility advocates, community leaders, and others interested in reproductive care in Sub-Saharan Africa and other areas of the world.”
Ashiru said ARCS aims to be the foremost contributor and the partner of choice in advancing ART care solutions and advocating improved access to regulate and create equitable fertility care solutions and breaking the stigma around infertility in Africa, with a particular focus on Sub- Saharan Africa. He said the objectives of ARCS, among others, are to promote the capacity development of young doctors and scientists in Assisted reproductive technology. To encourage advocacy on the prevention of infertility by increasing awareness of causes such as sexually transmitted diseases, climate, environmental toxins, and occupational causes like working in paint, plastic, and petrochemical industries.
Ashiru said the Summit promised to be an exciting one with the high panel Ministerial discussions on “The challenges and possible solutions to improve access to Infertility care and build fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries”, chaired by Chairman Board of Trustee, Academy of Medicine Specialties, Nigeria and Pro-Chancellor University of Benin, Nigeria, The Olor’ogun Dr. Sonny Kuku.