The childless women of Ethiopia
A medical student meets infertile women in Africa
- By: Hazel Batten
“Mule. Dry wood. Barren.” These are just a few of the words that the childless women of Ethiopia have to answer to.
During my year intercalating in international health at the University of Leeds, I developed an interest in maternal and child health. The issue of infertility never arose during any of our class discussions, and when I reviewed the literature I found that there was little evidence of research on the subject in low income countries, despite infertility being higher there.1 About 5% of the global population are infertile, and the prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa is believed to be as high as 20%.123 This inspired me to travel to the ancient capital of Gondar in the northwest of the country.
On arrival in Ethiopia, it was clear to me that sexual health matters and infertility were not subjects openly spoken about, and many of the women would not discuss