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Shunning treatment for STIs, fueling infertility - Opendi

By Cecilia Okoth

Added 4th February 2016 10:40 AM

Over 5,000 people are living with the challenge of fertility because most of them do not want come out to discuss the issue openly and are shunning or not completing the treatment

Shunning treatment for STIs, fueling infertility - Opendi

From L-R; Dr James Olobo Lalobo, Joyce Lay, Sarah Opendi, Rasha Kelej, Betty Amongin and Dr Dina Nakiganda at the lauch of Merck more than a woman campaign in Uganda on Febuary 3rd, 2016. Photo by RACHEAL NASSUUNA

Over 5,000 people are living with the challenge of fertility because most of them do not want come out to discuss the issue openly and are shunning or not completing the treatment

A cross section of people are shunning or not completing the treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) which are mainly fueling infertility.

According to Sarah Opendi, The State Minister for Health, infertility rises out of STIs that if treated early enough can help a couple get fertile and have children but this is not the case.

The minister said even with the availability of treatment for STIs that is free of charge at every health facility, people are still afraid of opening up because it concerns their private parts.

"Today, over 5,000 people are living with the challenge of fertility because most of them do not want come out to discuss the issue openly and are shunning or not completing the treatment," Opendi said, adding that at the end of the day, it only creates complications when seeking for children because it was not handled on time.

She was speaking at the launch of "Merck More than a Mother" campaign in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH) that is set to address key challenges associated with resource-constrained settings in prevention of infertility, social suffering and stigmatization of infertile women in Uganda at the Kampala Serena Hotel yesterday.

The minister explained that because many cannot afford fertility treatment, the ministry to come up with a preventive approach to help tackle the issue.

Merck is a re-known global, science and technology company for innovative healthcare, life science and performance materials.

The campaign according to Rasha Kelej, the Merck chief social officer will provide training for embryologists and education, for healthcare providers and will also support governments to define policies to improve access to safe and effective fertility care.

"We intend to also raise awareness about male infertility and the necessity for a team approach to family building among couples," Kelej said.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation show that more than 180 million couples in developing countries (One in every four couples) suffer from primary or secondary infertility. Infertility in Africa is caused by infections in over 85percent of women compared to 33percent worldwide.

Dr. James Olobo Lalobo the Vice President for the African Fertility Society said infertility in a clinical perspective is where a patient may start worrying six months before when a pregnancy has failed. He said when a doctor orders investigation for infertility, it takes 12 months.
            
He however said carrying out a survey on infertility remains a challenge due to lack of infrastructure and resources. Uganda currently has five fertility centres.

"People are not coming out so the true figure is not coming out clearly but up to 30percent of women are infertile," Lalobo said, adding that his centre receives about 300 women annually, with fertility issues.

Lalobo, also the proprietor of Paragon Fertility Centre, identified other causes of infertility to be poor hygiene, poor medical attention, menstrual disorder, treatment for various gynecological problems including unsafe abortions, poor hygiene during normal delivery in the pelvic.

In some cases, he said infertility can be related to contraceptives like the coil that is inserted in a woman's private parts and is either not inserted properly or has been neglected and left far too long.

He however does not rule out the aspect of men contributing to a woman's infertility through infections resulting from having many sexual partners which he said becomes a vector.

Male infertility on the other hand is mainly caused by sperm abnormalities such as low sperm production, immobile sperm or blockages that stop sperm delivery.

Research shows that such abnormalities can be cause by numerous medical conditions including ejaculation problems, infection, swelling of the veins in the testes, undescended testicles, erection problems and celiac disease.
Environmental factors such as exposure to industrial chemicals or radiation can also reduce sperm function and production.

Betty Amongi the chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentary Association highlighted the need for treatment centres to be reached to low income earners saying even insurance covers do not this cover because it is very costly.

She said the Health Insurance Bill is one of the Bills the women will lobby for to be discussed first in the 10th parliament.

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