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Media urged to demystify infertility stigma



THE media has been challenged to demystify issues and beliefs surrounding infertility, in a move aimed at raising awareness on the health condition.

Speaking at a health media training workshop in Harare yesterday, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, urged the media to destigmatise infertility, which is mostly blamed on married women who fail to produce offspring.

The workshop, a brainchild of the Merck Foundation in partnership with the First Lady’s Angel of Hope Foundation, was aimed at equipping journalists with skills to disseminate information on infertility.

“We welcome this important initiative by Merck Foundation in our country. Media, if guided properly, can bring about a huge change in the current scenario where women are solely blamed for infertility. I urge all media partners to work together for this cause to make a difference,” Auxillia said.

She said as Angel of Hope Foundation, they were collaborating with Merck Foundation in various programmes and were working with doctors who are currently undergoing training.

“As we speak, doctors have been identified to undergo studies in the areas of oncology, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and infertility,” Auxillia said.

“Ten doctors are being trained in diabetes mellitus and hypertension, while the other four are being trained in India in areas of infertility and embryology,” she said.

Five doctors are yet to undergo training in sub-specialisation oncology, including radiation and paediatric oncology, she said.

Health minister Obadiah Moyo said training programmes for journalists on health issues were a welcome move as this helps in dispelling some negative perceptions on particular subjects within communities.

“It is common knowledge that traditionally, the issue of infertility has always been associated with women, resulting in divorces as men believe that they are immune to the condition … that’s why initiatives and programmes on responsible reportage are so important,” he said.

Merck Foundation bestowed Auxillia as ambassador for their campaign.

Rasha Kelej, Merck Foundation chief executive officer and president, said: “After our committee meeting in March 2019 at Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) Summit, our programmes have started in partnership with the Zimbabwe government and we have already enrolled many doctors to our speciality training programmes. Moreover, we are conducing today the first health media training in Zimbabwe to educate media on how to break the stigma of infertility through their valuable work,” she said.

Journalists drawn from various media houses around the country attended the training workshop.

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