The Herald (Harare)

7 May 2007

Zimbabwe: African Scientists to Meet in Zim

(Page 3 of 4)

'Africa's infertility rate in the spotlight'

Africa's has the highest fertility rate in the world, which is routinely seen as problematic, yet its infertility rate, also the highest globally, gets scant attention in spite of the huge consequent risk of HIV infection.

That was the message to last week's 19th World Congress on Fertility and Sterility, held in Durban, South Africa, from Dr Silke Dyer, director of infertility services at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Dyer told delegates that studies in Cape Town, along with others in Nigeria, Mozambique and the Gambia, highlighted considerable unhappiness among infertile men and women. Practically, however, polygamy is a common consequence and, whether it's formal or informal, the practice exposes both partners to HIV infection.

Dyer quoted a Tanzanian study that turned up higher HIV prevalence rates among infertile women, when compared with pregnant women.

"Infertility, in many African settings, is a violation of the social norm. If you're fertile you're seen as moral and enjoy a social sense of superiority. But if you're infertile, you live with guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy," she said.

Apart from extreme psychological distress, other consequences include marital instability, loss of social security, status and gender identity, and a life of isolation.

A Ugandan Aids study had also pinpointed infertility as a leading cause of marital instability, and a leading risk factor for HIV and Aids.

Professor Ian Cooke, emeritus professor at the University of Sheffield and director of education for the International Federation of Fertility Societies, told delegates that African women each gave birth to an average of 5,4 children between the ages of 15 and 49, compared with a European average of 1,5.

But he cited unsafe abortions as a major cause of Africa's highest world infertility rate, and added that sub-Saharan Africa also notched up the highest rate of sexually transmitted infections globally. -- Cape Argus

'Nairobi to host second Africa's e-learning conference'

The second e-learning Africa Conference will take place in Nairobi, Kenya from May 28 -- 30. Discussion will centre on building partnerships for education in Africa that will address the somewhat controversial topic of multi-stakeholder partnerships for education s).

Panellists from Cisco, Microsoft, Intel and Nokia will take part in the discussion for successful partnerships.

Other topics will include highlighting examples of how to enhance learning with the support of technology, China's experience in the use of e-learning for development in both the formal education sector, highlighting how African universities are adopting ICT and successful strategies for implementing ICT in Schools.

Creative and successful learner-oriented design strategies, highly innovative ICT initiatives in African schools, approaches to quality assurance in e-learning programmes, debate about the challenges and alternatives of building ICT infrastructures to provide access and connectivity in Africa will be discussed at the conference. -- e-learning-africa.com

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