To the casual observer of the sexual and reproductive health debate, it would appear that the greatest concern for women in Africa is the right not to have children and from a socio economic development point of view this makes perfect sence.
Africa’s ever growing population creates environmental and social challenges that effect food security and financial stability at every level of society. On a local level, large families tend to have hungry children and hungry children tend to get sick more often. Then the family suffers further as mothers spend household savings and time nursing sick children rather than working to earn the money that will feed and educate their families.
This problem becomes even more challenging at a national level where rapid population growth among the low-skilled and uneducated poor has resulted in millions of unskilled youth facing high unemployment who are now becoming sexually active. These are the two main factors that contribute to and perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty.
However, at the same time in those same overpopulated regions, about one in three couples are infertile showing that some people are having too many children and others none at all. Infertility is deemed a
low-priority issue in the context of scarce health care resources and infertility may be justified as a natural solution to achieving the ‘demographic dividend’ of accelerated economic growth from declining fertility and smaller dependent populations.
There are many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in Africa to satisfy the increasing need and demand for sexual and reproductive health services for women. The key areas for investment by these NGOs have been the right to legal and safe abortion and the right to birth control ensuring that women can practice and enjoy sexual relationships without the risk of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.
With the exception of the WHO, few organisations are prioritising or funding infertility efforts or initiatives that will address the problems faced by childless women.
Being childless in developing countries is much more difficult than being childless is the developed world where infertility treatments such as IVF are sometimes perceived as a luxury or lifestyle choice for those who must have it all. In the absence of social security systems, older people in Africa are economically dependent on their children and grandchildren for their daily needs and survival.
It is always the woman who will carry the blame for the couple’s inability to conceive and in addition to the personal grief and suffering, women in Africa who cannot have babies are often cast out from their marriages, families and communities and often drift into prostitution.
Dimbayaa is building on the advances being made in women’s health by delivering a program for infertility care, providing awareness and prevention programs, counseling, standardised diagnosis and cheaper, more affordable, low cost fertility treatments.