BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has called for a culture shift to curb stigma around infertility, which affects women more than their male counterparts.
Speaking during the first annual summit with Merck Foundation in partnership with Zimbabwe, the First Lady, who is also the foundation’s ambassador for the “More Than a Mother” campaign, said concerted efforts were needed to transform mindsets.
The Merck Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany working to improve access to quality healthcare in the country. It also helps break the stigma around infertility.
“Some of our doctors, the future healthcare experts, either graduated or undergoing training, will soon join Merck scholarships of speciality training in critical and underserved specialities,” she said.
“Our media have a role to continue raising awareness and create a culture shift to break infertility stigma.”
Many women in the country are often under pressure to conceive soon after marriage. Apart from stigmatisation, what worsened the plight of women is the huge cost of fertility treatment in the country.
The introduction of vitro fertilisation in recent years had brought hope to women, but the prohibitive cost has instead yielded frustration.
Merck Foundation in partnership with Zimbabwe has given scholarships to local doctors to be trained in fertility and embryology, among other areas.
Bulawayo-based obstetrician and gynaecologist Harrison Rambanapasi is one of the few to be trained in India on fertility under the scholarship programme.
Merck Foundation chief executive officer Rasha Kelej said: “We have focused our efforts very much on Zimbabwe and after these training sessions, everyone in Zimbabwe should have quality healthcare.”
- Follow Phyllis on Twitter @pmbanje