Merck Foundation Collaborates with GJA to Train Media on Fertility Issues


The Merck Foundation, a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Germany, in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), has organised a health media training to empower journalists to report on accurately infertility issues.

The training, focused on; “The Role of the Media to break the stigma around infertility and infertile women in Africa,” and sought provide in-depth information, as well as advocacy for the social acceptance that both men and women were equally responsible for infertility within marital unions.

Dr Edem K. Hiadzi, a Fertility Specialists with the Lister Hospital and Fertility Centre, in a presentation described infertility as the failure of a couple to have a pregnancy after a year of having unprotected sex.

He said the prevalence was between 30 to 40 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa and was the major cause of marital disharmony.

He said studies had shown that both males and females contributed 40 per cent respectively to the factors that caused infertility, hence, none should be blamed or stigmatized for being the sole cause.

He outlined some major causes of infertility as chronic Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV, Post-abortion and puerperal infections leading to tube blockage, cervical cancer, premature ovarian failure and Asherman’s syndrome, which was the sticking together of the two walls of the fallopian tubes.

Dr Hiadzi said illnesses such as Tuberculosis, Schistosomiais, and mumps could also lead to infertility in both men and women, while negative cultural practices like the Female Genital Mutilation, and prolonged obstructed labour due to delays by unskilled birth attendants sometimes led to fistula, with the women leaking urine or faeces or both.

Other causes of infertility, he said was the excessive intake of alcohol and smoking, high temperatures around the male testicles as a result of long-term bicycle or sitting on engines built beneath the seats of vehicles, and also bathing with hot water.

Dr Hiadzi who is also the President of the Fertility Society of Ghana, said there was lack of data from the various health facilities, to help mobilise support for policies to address the issue of stigma and encourage early treatment.

He therefore, urged the media to intensify advocacy on the need for early recognition and aggressive treatment of all forms of STIs and pelvic inflammatory diseases.

He said the use of contraceptives for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, the provision of post maternal care as well as behavioural change among societies to prevent stigma and decimation against persons with infertility issues needed to be talked about.
He explained that although there were treatment options for infertility such as the In vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, and controlled ovarian stimulation with timed intercourse, they were very expensive, and advised that the cheapest way to address the issues was to prevent infections and other risk factors.

Ms Ekta Pal, a Representation from the Merck Foundation, spoke about the role and importance of using social media to raise awareness on fertility and infertility issues.

She indicated that the campaign to address the social canker of stigmatization was on course, and required all to get involved to address the problems through the provision of quality information, education and early treatment.

Mr Affail Monney, GJA President, thanked the Merck Foundation for funding the training and for instituting a media award scheme to boost reportage on issues of fertility, infertility and the stigma attached to it.

He urged the media to develop empathetic concerns, create more platforms and begin an aggressive talk about fertility issues with emphasis on the fact that male and females contributed equally to the problem, and that “not being able to have a child on your own was not a curse”.

Mrs Linda Asante-Agyei, GJA Vice President also spoke about the need for observing high ethical medical journalism, the challenges and opportunities for a better future.

She advised reporters to collaborate and engage experts on their productions, and ensure that medical terms used in their publications were broken down to the lowest levels of understanding by their audience and readers.

Mrs Asante-Agyei spoke against compromises of the truth and sensationalism of issues of infertility and urged that the media to do good advocacy job, sustaining their publications over time to achieve the expected social change.

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