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Politics News

Don’t stigmatize infertile women

An international organization, Merck Foundation, holds one-day health training for Liberian journalists from across the country held at a local hotel in Monrovia on Monday, May 27. The Foundation of which Liberia’s First Lady Clar M. Weah is an Ambassador, trains over 100 journalists on reporting infertility.

Liberia’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Williametta Piso Tarr says journalists’ reportage after the training will help people affected with infertility.

Minister Tarr calls on the on the public to put arms around those affected, adding, “Infertility didn’t stop one from being a mother, let the infertile women feel protected.”

Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe thanks the team for this great initiative and also for appointing the Liberian staff as one of its Ambassadors. He notes the training will help journalists across the country to report rightly to avoid stigmatization against people with infertility problem, stressing that the media can play a major role in helping the process.

Dr. Khomotso Mashilant Medical and Scientific of Merck Foundation says this is the first media training in Liberia. She also explains their mission is to raise community awareness, expand professional capacities.

Dr. Mashilant notes that infertility is a share responsibility of both man and woman, cautioning that women should stop being stigmatized because men dace similar situation.

Doctor Mashilant says infertility in Liberia mostly came about as a result of the 14 years civil war, saying that during the war, sharp objects were inserted in some women leading to them taking out their wombs to help safe their lives and it also led to most women having fistula.

A Liberia doctor at the government hospital in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Patience M. Mantor, notes that in Africa, traditional, cultural and religious practices combined with low resource environment are high causes of infertility.

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She says Merck Foundation and More than a Mother help in creating culture shift by de-stigmatizing infertility and showing respect and appreciate for infertile women in Africa. She adds that they are working with African first ladies with 17 first ladies across the Continent now serving as ambassadors.

She notes that a protracted period of untreated infection leads to infertility, as well as HIV because the virus breaks hormones, while stress, poor nutrition, exposure to smoking and abortion are key causes of infertility.

Doctor Mantor also points to low sperm count in men, infectious diseases and exposure to tobacco as causes of infertility, disclosing that 50 percent of males are affected.

The Vice President of the Female Journalists in Ghana, Linda Asante-Agyei says one should have self-motivation first by understanding the topic before spreading out messages to others.

She says there should be dedicated programmes in churches, mosques, communities and schools to help stop stigmatization of infertile women.

The coordinator for the Female Journalists of Liberia Siatta Scott Johnson says in Africa, people view infertility as humiliating and shameful, stressing that the media should be at the front in reporting on these topics usually considered as taboos, especially, Female Genital Mutilation or FGM.

However, she notes that the media places more emphasis on awareness than raising behavioral change, stressing that the media should now go beyond mere awareness and focus on reporting till people’s behaviors are changed. By Ethel A Tweh –Editing by Jonathan Browne

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