The state minister for Health, Sarah Opendi, has said government will this year introduce a law on fertility aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination against barren women and men.
“Currently, there is no law that regulates the fertility clinics that are in place in the country and yet the demand for fertility services is growing daily due to technology...We need to regulate this sector,” Opendi said yesterday (March 1) during the opening of the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) symposium at Kampala Serena hotel.
Opendi said the new law on fertility will include the issues of donor sperms, donor ovaries, surrogate mothers and others.
“Before the end of this year, we shall have a draft law on fertility issues…presented to parliament for consideration,” she said.
The symposium was themed “infertility awareness, access, capacity building and management in sub-Saharan Africa for happy families.”
Opendi said infertility has been a great issue in the country and many barren women are considered as useless and cursed.
“I want to appeal to the public that there is a difference between womanhood and motherhood. So, my failure to become a mother doesn’t mean I am useless in society and there is nothing else that I can do. So, stop stigmatizing women and men who have not given birth because it’s not their choice. They should be given equal opportunities in our societies,” she said.
Infertility issues have been neglected not only in Uganda but in the whole of Africa and other developing countries, but the developed world have gone ahead to handle the infertility issue.
“Although Uganda has a high fertility rate [about seven children per woman], there is a big number of couples who suffer from infertility. In Uganda, about 10 to 15 per cent of the couples cannot have children due to infertility, but 50 per cent is [dependent on males],” she said.
She advised couples with infertility issues to always go to hospitals for help instead of going to witchdoctors or pastors.
Causes of infertility include poor quality sperms in men, premature ejaculation, smoking, over consumption of alcohol and other toxic drugs, etc.
“In women, causes of infertility include unsafe abortions, fibroids, blocked fallopian tubes due to untreated Sexually Transmitted Diseases, poor nutrition and others,” she said.
The deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah, who opened the symposium on behalf of President Museveni, said the major cause of infertility issues in Uganda is due to untreated infections.
“All couples are advised to seek early treatment on STDs to avoid infertility,” he said.