Experts propose coverage of fertility treatment under national insurance scheme

Fertility Support Group Africa, an online community network, has called for treatment for those trying to conceive (TTC) to be included in national health insurance coverage.

The group called on Saturday in Abuja during its fifth anniversary and celebration of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV) under the motto “Unite against the stigma of TTC mothers”.

Saratu Kassim, CEO of the Fertility Support Awareness and Aid Initiative, said the National Health Insurance Agency should accept women who are trying to conceive and are undergoing fertility treatment.

Ms Kassim called on the government to raise awareness of fertility issues by educating young girls and collecting data to address the issue of infertility.

“We are calling on the government to include fertility treatment in health insurance as the scheme only covers a husband, wife and four children, the main problem for the couple trying to conceive but having a child.

“The government should at least consider preliminary testing or a percentage of the health procedures that women trying to conceive need to undergo,” she added.

She also believes there is a need for reproductive health education so girls know when they are most fertile and likely to conceive.

Ms Kassim said a concerted effort should also be made to collect data on fertility issues for effective planning.

“Focuses, programs, everything has always supported family planning. If we don’t have data, how do we plan?” she said.

The CEO expressed concern at the ongoing torture women are subjected to by society, in-laws and family members for their inability to conceive.

“Raise awareness of the issue as it is the government’s responsibility to stop the stigma and pressure on TTC women.

“With awareness, people will no longer see infertility as a woman’s sole fault, we need to let people know that infertility is a problem of both women and men and not just women.

“Women trying to conceive are at risk in this part of the world, the emphasis is on women and they are shamed.

“They are the ones who have been verbally abused, they suffer domestic violence at the hands of their spouses and in-laws, and they are stigmatized,” she said.

Rais Ibrahim, a gynecologist at National Hospital Abuja, called on the government to educate people with infertility problems to seek medical help.

“People suffer from infertility and the issue is neglected.

“We are working to ensure that the government creates awareness that people are looking for care and some form of support.

“A woman or man who does not have children may not do his best when employed by government or an agency, and this can lead to low productivity,” he said

He said infertility is caused by certain factors and is a problem for both sexes.

“Infertility is a common problem, mostly blamed on women, but men also contribute.

“Many of the factors that contribute to female infertility are tubal factors, ovulation problems, cervical infections and endometriosis.

“A recent discovery is when a woman delays her reproductive career until she is way too old,” he said.

Similarly, Chris Danga, an expert in preimplantation genetic diagnosis, criticized the alarming prevalence of infertility in Nigeria.

Mr Danga attributed the prevalence to lifestyle issues bordering on mindset, environmental toxins and other factors.

Rabiat Jibril, a participant and TTC, urged women to find safe places to de-stress and learn how to go about their normal lives while trying to conceive.

Ms Jibril said those trying to conceive deserve empathy, not stigma, to help ease their anxiety and stress.