Infertility in Developing CountriesAn estimated 49 million to 180 million couples  suffer from infertility, globally. Moreover, the majority of those affected live in developing countries. The most common cause of infertility in developing countries are STDs and pregnancy-related infections. With the focus of most poverty reduction efforts aimed at lowering overpopulation the health concern of infertility is often overlooked. Women who suffer from infertility in developing countries often face ostracization and struggle to get the healthcare they need. Thankfully, there has been an emergence of programs to help these women.

Causes of Infertility in Developing Countries

The most common cause of infertility in developing countries is untreated STDs since treatment is often unavailable or costly. In Africa, more than 85% of women’s infertility resulted from an untreated infection compared with 33% of women, worldwide. The most common STDs involved are chlamydia and gonorrhea. Other risk factors increasing the chance of infertility are poor education, poverty, negative cultural attitudes towards women. Finally, a lack of access to contraception is a huge risk factor.

The Sexist Effects of Infertility

The burden of infertility in developing countries falls on women although male infertility is the cause in 50% of cases. When a woman is unable to conceive, her husband will often divorce her or take another wife if permitted in the country. Women who are deemed infertile also suffer discrimination from the community.  In some cultures, society views these women as having a “bad eye”, which can pass on infertility from person to person. This results in infertile women missing important events such as weddings and other social gatherings since they receive no invitations.

Combating Infertility in Developing Countries

A campaign initiated by the Merck Foundation, “Merck More than a Mother,” seeks to heighten access to education and change the stigma for infertile women in developing countries. The program has provided training for fertility specialists and endocrinologists with more than 109 specialists trained since 2016.

Also, the foundation has created music videos, songs and fashion shows in African countries to send the message that women should not be blamed if they cannot have a child. More than 14 songs have featured singers from Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.

Women Deliver

In 2016, women’s infertility was a topic of discussion at Women Deliver — the world’s largest women’s health and rights conference held in Copenhagen. There were more than 5,500 conference participants, including government ministers, policymakers, business leaders, NGOs and activists. The WHO brought the topic to the conference, with the Director of Reproductive Health and Research giving a speech about the detrimental effects of infertility.

The WHO and Women Deliver, along with the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics have partnered to increase global advocacy for infertility in developing countries. The partnership aims to achieve this through advancing education and research in the field.

Hopefully, with these increased advocacy efforts, the world will start to recognize the health concern of infertility in developing countries.

Rae Brozovich
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

There are currently 222 million women around the world that lack access to contraception. The Global Poverty Project and Women Deliver have joined forces to create a new family planning initiative called It Takes Two to change that. The program seeks to increase the availability of family planning services around the world. Coming to fruition after last year’s Summit on Family Planning in London (which pledged $2.6 billion to help solve the family planning deficiencies in 120 developing countries) and the recent Women Deliver Global Conference in Malaysia, It Takes Two will work primarily by rewarding activism and advocacy.

Participants, through the Global Poverty Project’s mobile platform, will be able to win free contraception, and even design their own condom wrappers. According to Jill Sheffield, the founder and current president of Women Deliver, the It Takes Two program’s main goal is to inspire men and women to demand more access to family planning from their governments.

Though spear-headed by Women Deliver and the Global Poverty Project, other organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, the United Nations Population Fund, and many more are working together to support the program. The initiative is planned to take three years and is now available in the United States and Uganda.

The organization has a well-known ally in this effort. Ambassador to the program and Victoria’s Secret supermodel Erin Heatherton has said that the global lack of contraception is “one of the world’s most pressing issues.” Heatherton has also been a Victoria’s Secret Angel since 2008 and is an advocate who supports that family planning is pertinent to both men and women worldwide, going on to say that “Everyone should have the option to plan a family, and their choices shouldn’t be limited because of their socio-economic level or country of residence.”

– Samantha Mauney
Source: Artist Direct, Sun Times
Photo: Retro Fashion

Lifewraps Save Lives

In developing nations maternal deaths are far too common, and postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of deaths of mothers in these countries, accounting for nearly a quarter of all maternal deaths in the world according to the World Health Organization.

Postpartum hemorrhage is when the mother loses too much blood after giving birth, cutting off oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. This condition is very rare in developed countries because medical care is much more advanced and available than in lower-income nations. Also, most women in poorer countries give birth at home and don’t have timely access to a hospital.

The non-pneumatic anti-shock garment, also called a life wrap, is designed to combat this problem and lower the number of postpartum hemorrhage deaths. It’s made of simple materials—neoprene and Velcro—and was originally created by NASA for space programs. It was presented by health experts at the Women Deliver 2013 conference, a meeting of policymakers, researchers, and advocates to focus on women’s empowerment and health.

The life wrap works by restricting blood flow, therefore limiting blood loss. The garment is wrapped around a women’s legs and abdomen to slow the bleeding and send oxygen back to the heart, lungs, and brain—areas that need it the most. The product is simple, yet it can be a lifesaver.

However, the life wrap is intended to only be a way to buy time so that women can get to a hospital. With postpartum hemorrhage, they only have about two hours from the time the bleeding starts before they die of blood loss, and the life wrap extends that time frame so that they can make it to a hospital to receive proper medication and care.

– Katie Brockman

Source: The Guardian, Women Deliver
Photo: The Guardian

Design a Condom to Improve Contraception Access
In 2013, 222 million women in the developing world still do not have access to modern contraception. That is 222 million women unable to responsibly plan their families; without the ability to control their own fertility, they are unable to plan a stable future for themselves.

In developing countries, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are leading causes of death for women. Responsible family planning would not only significantly impact maternal mortality rates, but would also provide the opportunity for millions of girls to stay in school and potentially lift entire communities out of poverty.

Global Poverty Project and Women Deliver have partnered to launch It Takes Two, a campaign focused on improving access to sexual and reproductive health information and services around the world. The campaign will use the Global Citizen online platform to extend its message and generate support. It Takes Two hopes to capitalize on the game-like atmosphere of Global Citizen’s points rewards system to attract a substantial crowd of supporters.

How has It Takes Two managed to turn modern contraception into a game?

Design your own condoms.

It Takes Two is sponsoring a contest in which participants submit a condom wrapper design by July 21st, and the 10 winning designers will receive free condoms featuring their personalized wrapper. Everyone who enters will have their design profiled in the It Takes Two condom gallery, and be entered for a chance to win tickets to concerts to over 70 participating artists such as Kings of Leon, Beyoncé, Tim McGraw or One Direction.

It Takes Two wants everyone, creative or not, to step up and help spread the word that everyone has the right to plan their lives because a woman’s choices shouldn’t be made for her based on her socioeconomic level or her country of origin.

– Dana Johnson

Source: Artist Direct, It Takes Two
Photo: Global Giving

Expanding Contraceptive Accessibility
Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization that speaks for improved health and wellbeing for girls and women around the world, held a conference in Malaysia earlier this month called “Women Deliver 2013″. One of the most exciting strategies discussed at the conference involved contraceptive accessibility for women in developing countries. In 2012, global leaders pledged more than $2.6 billion to provide women and girls in developing countries with “voluntary access to contraceptive services, information, and supplies by 2020.”

Speakers at Women Deliver 2013 noted the importance of providing this kind of healthcare for women that have no access to it. Melinda Gates stated, “Putting women at the center of development and delivering solutions that meet their needs will result in huge improvements in health, prosperity, and quality of life.” She added, “When women have access to contraceptives they’re healthier, their children are healthier, and their families thrive.”

Many people do not recognize the significance of this issue, yet an estimated 150 million women worldwide do not have contraceptive accessibility they desire. In developing countries, pregnancy can be very dangerous for women and lead to greater risks of death or injury of both the mother and her children in childbirth. In addition, women in developing countries face a greater risk of death after bearing too many children and often are not allowed the necessary time for healing in between pregnancies. By providing contraception to delay or prevent pregnancies, young women in developing countries can minimize the risks associated with childbirth, care for the other children they have, and even have new opportunities for education or supporting themselves through work.

Leaders from Senegal, Indonesia, and the Philippines, among others, have pledged to expand family planning programs and access. According to UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, “These countries show that we can make an impact on women’s access to reproductive health if we rally the necessary political will and financial commitments.” He continues, “Expanding access to contraceptives is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to save lives and ensure the health and wellbeing of future generations.”

These strategies and investments could help to foster healthy populations, as well as allow women and girls to spend more time learning and becoming independent, instead of spending years of their lives raising and caring for their children.

– Sarah Rybak

Source: Ghana Business News
Photo: Facebook