Fertility clinics in Africa? Comments on the Washington Post article about this new trend express disbelief and outrage that such a service should be dreamed of in this “overpopulated” and underdeveloped continent. The handful of comments, in fact, betray an unpleasant superiority complex towards Africa that is a problem in itself. Nevertheless, couples experience infertility in Africa as they do anywhere else, and with even greater unhappiness, according to the report from Uganda.
The 44-year-old teacher featured in the report believes she is infertile as a result of a botched abortion when she was young and apparently unmarried. When Apio and her husband were unable to conceive she consulted a gynaecologist, who diagnosed a blocked fallopian tube. Two operations later she had lost both tubes — she does not understand why.
In a culture where fertility is highly valued, and where children represent security for parents as they grow old, infertility can be a source of shame as well as anxiety. “Women in Uganda, where polygamy is legal, have seven children on average; a recent newspaper article described in celebratory tones the life and times of a man who had 120 children with seven wives,” says the report. The influence of polygamy on the birth rate is worth noting.
Apio’s husband’s family and her neighbours taunted her, and her husband has taken a second wife with whom he has two children. She is reluctant to leave him, partly because it would shame her family. She has paid for the education of a nephew and two nieces, but says she cannot expect any support from them later in life.
Apio attends a counselling centre in Kampala which refers women to fertility clinics and she is hoping that in vitro fertilisation might work for her. Two clinics have opened in Kampala in recent years; there is also one in Nairobi (Kenya) and a handful of others in major cities across the continent. ~ Washington Post, August 14