Government has said that the newly established Women’s Hospital at Mulago national referral hospital will significantly address the problem of costly treatment for people suffering infertility through provision of specialized services.
A considerable number of people in Uganda continue to grapple with the challenge of infertility with about 10 to 15% of the couples unable to have children.
The Ministry of Health says that for 75% of the people affected by infertility, the problem is due to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) which often lead to blockage of fallopian tubes in women and sperm ducts among men.
While Uganda is known to have a high fertility rate, there is a big number of couples who suffer from infertility but have chosen to remain silent about it for reasons relating to fear of stigmatization or losing their partners.
It is for the same reason that the Ministry of Health lacks current statistics on the prevalence of infertility in Uganda.
While speaking to the press on Tuesday, the State Minister for Health in charge of General Duties, Sarah Opendi revealed that government plans to reduce the problem of infertility through specialized treatment at the new Maternal and Neonatal Centre at Mulago.
“The women’s hospital will provide affordable specialized fertility care to the public. Uganda currently has up to five fertility centers but all these are private and therefore not pocket – friendly to the ordinary Ugandan,” she said.
It costs an individual an average of Shs 10 million to Shs 20 million in the private clinics to get pre-fertilized sperms and the subsequent procedures for one to get a child.
Minister Opendi said that government is working out ways through which the costs for this treatment will be subsidized for low earning Ugandans.
“The women’s hospital will likely be opened in March. A number of specialists have already been sent abroad for training in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART),” Opendi told journalists.
Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. It is a reproductive disease that affects both men and women. The World Health Organization indicates that 50% of infertility is as a result of the male factor.
In males, the major causes of infertility include; abnormal sperm production or function due to genetic defects, health problems such as diabetes or infections and undescended testicles and problems with the delivery of sperm due to sexual problems such as premature ejaculation.
It can also be caused by cancer, over exposure to chemicals and radiation, consumption of alcohol, cigarette smoking and use of drugs or steroids.
In the case of females, infertility arises from ovulation disorders, uterine and cervical abnormalities, damaged fallopian tubes or blockage often caused by inflammation, early menopause and cancer.
According to Opendi, the problem of infertility largely explains the many cases of stealing new born babies. She said that for fear of their husbands finding out about their barrenness, women resort to stealing babies to disguise them as theirs.
The Minister urged couples to visit heath facilities together whenever they suspect that one of them has an infertility problem in order to avoid wrongly apportioning blame to each other.