By Fadzai Ndangana
Angel of Hope in collaboration with Merk Foundation are working hand in glove to break barriers and fight stigma on issues of fertility in both men and women in Zimbabwe under the “Much more than a Mother” project emphasizing the need for a paradigm shift from the patriarchal conceived norm of perceiving infertility to be a feminine issue.
The First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa, is the founder of Angel of Hope, which, together with their partner Merk Foundation, hosted a workshop for local scribes, equipping then on how to report on issues to do with infertility.
In her address, the First Lady mentioned that infections are the major causes of infertility in Zimbabwe.
“Traditional, cultural , and religious practices combined with low resources can be catalysts for this condition. Factors that include poor nutrition, untreated sexually transmitted infection, unsafe abortions, consequences of genital mutilation and exposure to smoking also promote infertility,”
“By training the media, we want to bring out the fact that infertility is not a curse through their stories. There can be situations when couples come face to face with the situation,” said the First Lady.
“We have so far looked at cancer treatment, diabetes mellitus and hypertension and the area of infertility which we are gathered here to discuss,” added the First lady
Merck Foundation has pledged to train 10 doctors in diabetes mellitus and hypertension while the other four are being trained in India in areas of infertility and embryology.
“We want the media to bring out the message that infertility affects men and women. This cannot be a blame game. Yet we know in our societies that women bear the brunt of this problem. This can be a basis of sexual and or physical abuse, divorce or isolation from the family structure,” added the First Lady.
Dr. Gerald Madziyire, a gynecologist with the Ministry of Health and Child Care said there is a need for a shift from traditional perspectives which imply that infertility affects women to a realistic understanding of the truth that infertility affects both men and women.
The workshop emphasized the need for media personnel to assume the highest level of professionalism to facilitate accurate reportage.
Ministry of Health and Child Care Public Relations Officer Donald Mujiri challenged the media to exercise highest possible levels of ethical character when reporting issues to do with health and infertility.
“Transparency, integrity and ethics are key components of reporting that media practitioners should abide to,” said Mujiri.
The training workshop was also used as a platform to announce the Merk Foundation funded media awards on infertility whose deadline for submission is November 2019.