THE media plays a critical role in addressing the stigma related to infertility and correctly informing society that the condition affects both men and women, the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.
Addressing journalists during a health media training workshop organised by Merck Foundation and Angel of Hope Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care in Harare yesterday, Amai Mnangagwa, who is the founder of Angel of Hope and the Ambassador of the Merck Foundation, said it was important for the media to bring out issues of infertility and raise awareness in the communities.
The workshop was organised to raise awareness and capacitate journalists with skills to report on fertility issues.
“Let’s take the role media plays in addressing issues of stigma relating to infertility seriously. We want the media to bring out the situations when a couple comes face to face with this reality,” said the First Lady.
She said the collaboration of the two foundations had yielded positive results with focus being placed on other conditions as well.
“We’re collaborating with Merck Foundation in various ways of development. We’re focusing on areas of health and development that are often overlooked.
“We’re focusing on cancer treatment, diabetes mellitus and hypertension,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
She said under the programme, a group of doctors had been identified to undergo training in sub specialisation in oncology, including radiation oncology and paediatric oncology.
“When these doctors come back they’ll surely add value to the system by helping members of our population who need these services,” the First Lady said.
In a speech read on her behalf by Mr Crispen Makoni the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, said it was important for organisations to work together in raising awareness against stigmatisation of infertility.
“It’s common knowledge that traditionally issues of infertility are associated with women, resulting in divorces as men believe that they’re immune to the condition.
“Most media practitioners are aware of the advancement in medical technology and research in an effort to overcome infertility,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said that’s why initiatives and programmes on infertility were important.
“There is surely a need for Government and international organisations such as Merck, non-governmental organisations and the private sector to support research and public education to destigmatise this condition.
“As the Ministry of Information, we’re cognisant of the important role that the media plays in setting a new narrative that is supported by empirical and scientific evidence,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She added that journalists were opinion drivers.
“If journalists take part in the destigmatisation of infertility, everyone else in the nation will have no option other than to accept the paradigm shift.
“We should work together to craft a media awareness campaign that strives to remove the stigma associated with infertility,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo applauded the collaboration of the two foundations.
“I’m pleased to see the collaboration of these organisations. I’m also aware that the collaboration is also in other areas of oncology training, diabetes and hypertension training.
“We sent some doctors to India for training in embryology and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) under the Merck ‘much more than a mother programme,’” said Dr Moyo.
He said the Ministry wanted the media to help send a message that infertility is not only a woman problem.
“Infertility equally affects men and women. This problem can be treated and couples can be assisted,” said Dr Moyo.
The Merck Foundation announced media recognition awards on infertility for Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa. — @pamelashumba1