Reducing the "infertility belt" of sub-Saharan Africa

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Due to different variables, the African continent is the most affected by infertility. This project will look at the suffering couples, as well as the solutions they can turn to, including "the walking egg" technology.

  • €10,000 Budget in Euros
  • 2019 Final release date
  • 2 Round winner
  • 2 Locations

Reducing the "infertility belt" of sub-Saharan Africa

When the European reader thinks of Africa, he imagines very large families. Some people even say that the continent is mainly poor because "women have too many children". Some mothers have many children, either because they want them or because they do not have enough access to contraception, but we too often forget the 15% to 30% of the continent's population who struggle to conceive a child, against 5% in 10% in Europe. Experts note an "infertility belt" in central Africa, stretching from Tanzania in the East to Ghana in the West.

This project reports from Cameroon, where the first baby by in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born in Central Africa in 1998, as well as in Ghana, where the first baby born with "the walking egg" technology, which costs a third of IVF, was born in 2017. The "walking egg" technology was developed by a team of Belgian doctors as a low-cost technique, which has only been implemented in Belgium and Ghana.

Both countries are part of the "infertility belt". The project addresses the plight of couples who consult, and in particular women, who are more subject to societal pressure, and risk divorce, repudiation and accusations of witchcraft. The project aims to lift the taboo on this topic, and to destigmatize these couples.

The project also aims to inform the general public and decision-makers: some causes of infertility, such as fibroids can be treated, if they are in time. It will also be a question of warning of the consequences of untreated sexually transmitted diseases, as well as abortions performed outside the medical environment.

The project also discusses medically assisted reproduction by informing the public, and especially women, about the medical benefit of attempting this procedure as soon as possible. The question of the cost of IVF is also on the agenda: the treatments are not reimbursed, and middle-class families in Cameroon and Ghana do not hesitate to sell their land, their car or even their house, in order to try to have a child.

Some women, for fear of the stigma associated with these "unnatural children", choose to try these treatments by France, for the sake of confidentiality, but also because they believe that the results will be better (which is not the case, Cameroonian treatments were, for example, set up by René Frydman, the "father" of the first French IVF baby). Those who go to France give up their jobs for the duration of the treatments.

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