Building Infertility Awareness Across Africa

Many of Medfem’s patients travel from other African countries to our state-of-the-art fertility clinic in Sandton, Johannesburg, in South Africa. Our team understand the unique challenges our African patients face when seeking fertility treatment, given the myths and stigma that surrounds infertility in many African societies.

The great news it that much work is being done to eradicate these myths and false stigma’s, and more people are beginning to realise that infertility is a medical condition that can be successfully treated. At Medfem, we believe in #empoweringvoices and contributing to greater awareness of infertility and the medical fertility treatments available here in South Africa.

Infertility is a major health challenge globally, affecting large numbers of people – as much as 17.5% of the adult population worldwide or roughly 1 in 6 couples! Recent research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) also shows that there is little difference in the prevalence of infertility between different regions around the world, with similar rates for high-income countries at 17.8% compared to low- and middle-income countries at an only slightly lower at 16.5%. As Director-General at WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus puts it: “The report reveals an important truth: infertility does not discriminate”.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we can confirm this, because we welcome fertility patients from all over Africa, and many of our patients come from Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia, Cameroon, Tanzania, Botswana, Ghana and Nigeria.

For this reason, we know that the myths and stigma around infertility are often particularly deeply entrenched in many African societies. Having treated so many patients from Africa at Medfem Fertility Clinic, we are strong supporters of initiatives aimed at breaking the stigma of infertility and gladly share information about these projects.

Beyond our country’s borders, Medfem supports creating awareness of infertility issues through the Southern African Society for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG) and locally, in South Africa, through the Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa, IFAASA. Our message remains this: infertility is a medical condition that can be treated!

Fortunately, a great deal of progress is being made – around the world, as organisations – from the WHO to local non-profits and private fertility clinics – participate in dispelling fertility stigma.

Here in Africa, too, continent-wide efforts are gaining momentum in dispelling the false stigma and myths around infertility.

Two notable recent high-level examples include the 2023 World Infertility Awareness Summit and the Fertility Show Africa 2023, the continent’s first and only exhibition targeted at those trying to conceive and those on a journey to parenthood.

2023 World Infertility Awareness Summit

The 2023 World Infertility Awareness Summit recently took place in Accra, Ghana, during World Infertility Awareness month, which is observed globally in June each year.

It has held in partnership with the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) and Africa Reproductive Care Society (ARCS) by the Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KgaA Germany.

The Summit was co-chaired by Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of “More Than a Mother” Campaign and Chairperson of Africa Reproductive Care Society (ARCS), Dr. Edgar Mocanu, President of International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), and Prof. Oladapo Ashiru OFR, President of Africa Merck Foundation.

The objectives of the Summit were to raise awareness about infertility, especially male infertility; to highlight preventive measures for infertility in Africa and developing countries; to define solutions to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care; and to define interventions to break infertility stigma around women and couples. It was addressed by prominent speakers from prestigious fertility societies including FIGO, GIERAF, REDLARA, ASPIRE, Fruitful Vine Africa, and FERSOG.

The summit was conducted under the Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign – a partnership with African First Ladies, who are also the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign – that aims to empower women living with infertility and supports interventions to break infertility stigma and raise awareness about infertility prevention and male infertility.

Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasised, “Our joint summit in partnership with International Federation of Fertility Societies and Africa Reproductive Care Society, has been an effort towards raising awareness about infertility, and especially male infertility, and to sensitizing communities to end the stigma associated with infertility and empower infertile women and couples through access to information, education, health and change of mindset.”

Prof. Oladapo Ashiru OFR, President of Africa Reproductive Care Society (ARCS) said, “Infertility is not only a medical issue but also a social issue as it affects the psychological health of the women suffering with infertility stigma due to emotional distress and physical violence too in some cases. Infertility can be preventive by adopting various measures like switching to a healthy lifestyle, quitting smoking, reducing stress and anxiety, and ending the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).”

Dr. Edgar Mocanu, President of International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) stated, “The aim of the summit is to ensure that the voice of the infertile is heard.” #empoweringvoices

Here at Medfem in South Africa, we also believe in #empoweringvoices.

As we shared in a recent post, infertility not only affects physical health but also causes distress, stigma, and financial hardship, impacting mental and psychosocial well-being.

By raising awareness, reducing stigma, and providing comprehensive care and support, we can empower those affected by infertility – the individuals and couples experiencing infertility – and give them a voice to share their stories, to seek the help they need, and to find solace in a supportive community.

#empoweringvoices is a vital step toward addressing the physical, emotional, and socioeconomic consequences of infertility, fostering inclusivity, and promoting equal access to quality fertility care for all individuals worldwide.

In the next few weeks, couples from all across the African continent will also be to ask experts all their questions about infertility at this year’s Fertility Show Africa.

Fertility Show Africa 2023

Fertility Show Africa – the continent’s first and only exhibition targeted at those trying to conceive and those on a journey to parenthood – takes place on the weekend of Saturday, 5 August 2023, and Sunday, 6 August 2023, at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and International Convention Centre.

The show – whose mission it is to break the silence around the fertility issues couples face when it comes to building their families – will give those attending the opportunity to engage with specialists and experts in a supportive and unobtrusive environment, making the show an invaluable resource for those looking to start or expand their family.

Fertility Show Africa presents a unique opportunity to meet some of the best specialists, embryologists, nurses, psychologists, social workers and fertility coaches and ask questions, find answers and gather all the necessary information to support their journey to parenthood.

Come and meet our team!

You will certainly be able to meet the Medfem Fertility Clinic at Fertility Show Africa!

We believe in helping you reach your family dream through:

* World-Class Fertility for Everyone – we believe in making world-class fertility treatments available for everyone

* A Positive Fertility Journey – It is our joy and commitment to give you a positive outcome to your fertility journey

* Delivered With Empathy & Caring – So you may have a fond memory, of a feeling of empathy, caring and being part of the Medfem family

If you would prefer to meet us at out state-of-the-art facilities in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

Our Fertility Specialists can also meet with You During a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.

We look forward to meeting you!


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