Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter

Over 100 journalists from across the media divide yesterday underwent rigorous training to equip them with skills to handle infertility issues as part of a broad-based approach to end stigma on the subject.

Organised by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation and Merck Foundation’s More than a Mother, the workshop was coordinated by experts in various disciplines.

Matters of infertility have contributed significantly to crime and suicide in the recent past.

Infertility, however, affects both men and women.

The First Lady, who is the ambassador for Merck-More than a Mother in Zimbabwe and the country’s Health and Child Care ambassador, said if guided properly, the media can bring about a huge change in the current scenario were women are solely blamed for infertility.

Merck Foundation chief executive officer Dr Rasha Kelej believes that media have the capacity and ability to break the stigma around infertility in the community.

Yesterday’s workshop provided a great opportunity for both State and private media to meet experts and network with each other and work as a unit to eradicate the stigma around infertility in Zimbabwe.

Addressing journalists, Amai Mnangagwa said Angel of Hope Foundation was collaborating with Merck Foundation in various areas of development and health issues that are often neglected or overlooked.

“We should take note of the serious role the media plays in addressing issues of stigma relating to infertility,” she said.

“We want the media to bring out the message that infertility affects both men and women. This cannot be a blame game, yet we know in our societies that women bear the brunt of this problem.

“We want the media to bring out the fact that infertility is not a curse.

“There can be a solution to situations when a couple comes face to face with this situation.

“To you all the media fraternity across the country, let us have positive stories on infertility which help to break the barriers.”

The First Lady said the partnership between Angel of Hope Foundation and Merck Foundation saw medical personnel from Zimbabwe being trained in various specialties in India.

Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, in a speech read on her behalf by an official, Mr Crispen Makoni, said: “If media take the lead in the de-stigmatisation of infertility, everyone else in the nation will have no option other than to accept the emerging paradigm shift. The media plays an important role in creating an informed society.”

Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo said the media need to get knowledge about infertility first for them to report positively.

“We want you to send the message that it is not only a woman’s problem.

“We want you to tell the country that the problem can be treated and couples can be assisted,” he said.