“Issues of infertility have been around throughout history, and it has serious social and psychological consequences, including social exclusion, verbal and physical abuse, and marriage breakdown,” Mutharika said on Tuesday during the launch of More Than A Mother Initiative, a plan which looks at issues of infertility, cancer and diabetes.
“Women are often the victims of the ridicule and name calling aimed at taking away the dignity of those affected. And Even the solutions accepted by society, such as polygamy, are damaging,” she said.
Mutharika is collaborating with German’s Merck Foundation to implement the initiative under the theme ‘Addressing Infertility, Restoring Dignity to the Affected’ with an aim of inspiring people with infertility issues through civic education, access to information and perception change.
Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and president of More Than A Mother Initiative, said the vision of the initiative “is to fight stigma towards infertile women and civic educate the public about male infertility and its prevention.”
“In many cultures, childless women are victims of discrimination, stigma and ostracism. Woman’s failure to have a child or to become pregnant can result in being greatly isolated, disinherited or assaulted. This triggers divorce or physical and psychological suffering. However, with or without a child, women deserve respect,” she said.
Apart from Malawi, the Merck Foundation, also provide unique trainings for local oncologists and diabetes experts in Egypt, Malaysia and India.
Health and Population Minister Jappie Mhango said Malawi recognizes infertility and other diseases as an emerging problem and that More Than A Mother initiative will help the ministry be able to give better medical services to the affected people.
Research has shown that infertility is a significant public health problem in African countries like Malawi, affecting an estimated 17 percent of Malawian couples aged between 20 and 44 years.
Health experts say that 90 percent of infertility cases are reversible with medical treatment and care, and More Than A Mother Initiative will provide medical awareness to those affected.