Fertility Show Africa (FSA) – which took place in Gauteng from 6th to 7th March 2020 – was a resounding success, with a capacity crowd of more than 1700 people visiting this, the first fertility show to be held on the African continent.
The two-day expo was opened by Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Bandile Masuku.
“This is a milestone and groundbreaking event, not only for Gauteng but for South Africa and Africa,” said Masuku, who was previously the Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Unit at the Thelle Mohoerane Regional Hospital in Vosloorus.
The event attracted visitors from the US, Swaziland, India, Uganda, Botswana and Ghana.
Says organiser Heidi Warricker: “Eighteen months ago Live Events Africa created, conceptualised and developed the idea of Fertility Show Africa (FSA). We approached the Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa (IFAASA) and South African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG) last year for their backing and were delighted when they agreed to support it.”
The event also had the support of the US’s first IVF baby Elizabeth Carr who was born in 1981.
“We thank all our sponsors, exhibitors, expert speakers, the media and everyone who attended the event and who helped open the infertility conversation, helped break down taboos and empowered women and men with information on infertility and fertility treatment,” continues Warricker, “We were delighted to host these world experts under one roof sharing their knowledge and expertise.”
Says Dr Danie Botha, vice president of SASREG: “(Those who attended) were able to see they were part of a group of men and women suffering from the same problem and that they could be open about it. There was information on every possible treatment. We hope the show will get bigger and bigger as awareness about it grows.”
Saskia Williams of the IFAASA concurs: “The Live Events Team organised an amazing inaugural Fertility Show Africa and we were proud to have been a part of it. We have had only great feedback from couples who attended and we definitely achieved our goal of helping people to understand their journey and plan for their futures. We are already looking forward to next year’s event!”
The Support Zone was supported by a professional counselling and support team headed up by clinical psychologist Mandy Rodrigues who said: “The turnout was incredible. At every stand people were passionate about the subject so those attending didn’t have to feel any stigma. They realised they were no longer alone in the process and were safe.”
There was further positive feedback from visitors, exhibitors and speakers.
Said Dr Lawrence Gobetz of Vitalab who had a stand at the show: “Fertility Show Africa was a world class event, it was phenomenal. I have twice attended and exhibited at Fertility Show London and this was as good as those expos.”
(Gobetz met up at the show with Taneale van der Merwe whose mother received IVF from him, resulting in her birth 24 years ago. He also delivered Van der Merwe, one of the last babies he delivered).
Vessel is Me from Uganda was excited to attend the first Fertility Show Africa. Says the NGO’s founder Denise Kekimuri: “I wasn’t ready for what awaited me at the show. It was very encouraging to not have to explain what we do as an organisation. For people to understand and comprehend the necessity of bereavement perinatal care and maternal mental health was very refreshing. The show had a wide range of experts and support group personnel and I picked up a lot of information with regards to fertility issues, immunology, DNA and male infertility. It was also surprising to see so many men attend the show and ask questions during the various talks. We also got to partner with Infertility Books to sell our books throughout South Africa. We can’t wait for the next show.”
Says Adele Beyl of iNova Pharmaceuticals, one of the exhibitors: “FSA brought a diverse community into one place. Infertility is a topic that is not always easy to talk about and this expo brought audiences into a safe environment. From being in the pharmaceutical industry what stands out is the value of presentations and talks by specialists in their field.”
Says Aevitas Fertility Clinic: “We had a wonderful weekend. FSA creates a platform for the public to educate themselves about the options on their fertility journey as well as the opportunity to engage with the experts in the field. We look forward to partnering with FSA in 2021.”
One visitor Thandekile commented: “This expo has showed me that I am not alone – there is a group of people who can share both your experience and your pain. FSA helps lighten the load and gives us the ability to be open about fertility. Now we must continue to keep the conversation going.”
Posted one Facebook user: “Today I sat and listened to different speakers talk about pregnancy and infant loss. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I felt pain I’ve been trying to suppress in an effort to remain strong. I admitted I need help.”