• Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

Social stigma linked to infertility is a public health problem, according to a psychiatrist


Mar 3, 2023

BUJUMBURA March 3rd (ABP) – During the Burundian online media training on health, which was organized by the Merck foundation in partnership with the First Lady of Burundi, Mrs. Angeline Ndayishimiye, ambassador of the campaign “More than a mother”, Dr Janita Neermul Bhujun, psychiatrist in the Republic of Mauritius, made a presentation on “the social and psychological stigma of infertility”. Mrs. Janita said that worldwide more than 70 million couples suffer from infertility. Infertile women suffer the negative consequences of infertility to a greater degree in developing countries than in developed ones. Globally, infertility creates problems for couples, especially for women who are generally blamed for the couple’s infertility and suffer grief, social and psychological stigma, discrimination and severe economic deprivation, Dr. Janita added.

According to her, in Africa, infertility is a public health problem with 20 to 30% depending on the region and is still considered a taboo subject. She also pointed out that the stigma associated with infertility is a major public health problem at a time when it results in infertile couples as shame, guilt, low self-esteem, lack of social support, relationship problems, depression, stress, alcohol or drug abuse, feelings of loss of identity, feelings of inadequacy and incompetence.

The oppressive and discriminatory attitudes that emanate both from the family and from society in general cause mental and emotional trauma that can have lasting psychological repercussions, especially in women who are still considered solely responsible for infertility, while the responsibility is shared between the two spouses. She also added that infertile women have low social support leading to severe depression, trauma, mental health issues, distress and anxiety caused by the involvement of family members of the husband. According to her, this can lead to separation or divorce and the man is encouraged to find another woman whom he thinks might have children.

Dr. Janita pointed out that few countries in the world offer insurance coverage for infertility treatment. The range of treatment coverage varies and it is not 100% effective, she pointed out. Failure of treatment can be a cause of immense stress and depression, she insisted. Moreover, the treatment of infertility is very expensive. On the same occasion, she invited media professionals to make media productions aimed at cultural change, breaking the stigma linked to infertility and other social problems including gender-based violence, child marriage, child labor and others. The media are also called upon to raise public awareness by explaining that infertility affects both partners, that it is always better to consult doctors. Journalists should also cover topics related to girls’ education and the promotion of women’s empowerment.