Hon. Sarah Opendi
Minister of State for Health- General Duties
27th, February, 2018
Uganda is privileged to host the International Infertility Symposium, the first of its kind on the African continent.
The symposium will be hosted by the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) in close partnership with the Ministry of Health and Uganda Fertility Society from 28th February to 2nd March, 2018, at Kampala Serena Hotel, under the theme; “Infertility awareness, Access, Capacity building and management in Sub-Saharan Africa for Happy families”.
For the first time, an international conference of this magnitude will be held in sub-Saharan Africa. This provides a unique opportunity for Africa’s infertility care providers, trainers, researchers and policy makers to pool and share knowledge and experience with experts from across the world.
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
 Problems with the delivery of sperm due to sexual problems such as premature ejaculation, certain genetic diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis, structural problems such as blockage in the testicle, damage or injury to reproductive organs.
 Over exposure to certain environmental factors such as chemicals and radiation. Cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, use of drugs, steroids can also affect fertility.
 Cancer and its treatment.
Infertility in females can be caused by;
 Ovulation disorders
 Uterine and cervical abnormalities
 Fallopian tube damage or blockage often caused by inflammation of the fallopian tube. This can result from pelvic inflammatory disease which is usually caused by STIs or adhesions (internal scar tissue).
 Early menopause when ovary stops working and menstruation ends before the age of 40.
 Cancer and its treatment, among many others.
According to World Health Organization, one in every four couples in developing countries had been found to be affected by infertility. This prevalence is based upon patient numbers who came to the clinics requesting for assistance related to infertility.
In Uganda, about 10-15% of the couples cannot have children due to infertility. About 75% of these are due to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) which lead to blockage of fallopian tubes in women and sperm ducts among men.
Although Uganda has a high fertility rate, there is a big number of couples who suffer from infertility. The Government of Uganda recognizes the plight of these people, and is committed to alleviating their suffering.
In 2016, the Government of Uganda with support from the MERCK Foundation launched the campaign on infertility with focus on empowering infertile women through access to information, awareness, health education, change of mind set and economic support.
Government has also established the Women’s hospital: Maternal and Neonatal Centre at Mulago National Referral Hospital, to 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. A number of specialists have already been sent abroad for training in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
Additionally, the Ministry of Health has integrated Sexual and Reproductive Health Services with HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) with emphasis on prevention of STIs especially among the adolescents and young people.
Prior to the main event, a one-day pre-conference workshop shall be held on 28th February, 2018, featuring various Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) topics as well as training in practical techniques. There will be plenaries by key opinion leaders in the world of infertility, World Health Organisation, Merck Foundation, among others, preceded by the opening ceremony by the President of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
This conference is an exciting time in Africa, and Uganda in particular, as we develop and evolve to become more responsive and open to new ideas in the field of infertility care.
So, I hope this symposium will inspire all of us and enhance our knowledge in infertility and its treatment, Assisted Reproductive Technology techniques, regulations, patient safety and the capacity to support ongoing and emergent unmet infertility care needs at national, regional and global levels.
The Ministry of Health appreciates the support from the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), African Fertility Society (AFS) and Uganda Fertility Society for their tireless efforts to make this symposium a success.
I thank you.
For God and My Country
Hon Sarah Opendi
Minister of State for Health - General Duties
27th February 2018