Lament of a Barren Woman

Sarai is just one example of the biblical stigma of not being able to conceive.

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Reasons for Hope

There is, however, room for optimism. In Sarah’s case, her infertility was addressed by the arrival of a Heavenly delegation announcing the imminent birth of a son. Today, numerous instances of infertility in developing nations can be prevented altogether by timely and effective treatments. Over 70 percent of affected women in the Global South suffer from secondary infertility, frequently caused by common complications of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Unlike primary infertility, caused by hormonal imbalances or physiological abnormalities, secondary infertility is often preventable. By raising awareness about STIs, teaching safe sex methods and treating infections, health care workers can significantly reduce the number of infertile women in developing nations.

Ensuring that people have access to basic health care can be a daunting challenge in the Global South. Partners in Health, a Boston-based colleague of AJWS that works with people in developing countries to access better health care, has taken on this challenge worldwide. In Lesotho, a country of two million people with only 90 doctors, it has helped local people create four clinics in areas so remote they might be an eight hour pony ride from the nearest road. There, doctors, nurses and numerous local health workers now treat thousands of people in regions where previously there had been no access to any medical care. Through some relatively simple interventions that we can support in clinics like these, infertility can be dramatically decreased in developing countries.

Isaiah, describing the joy embodied in the future glory of Zion, likens this exultation to the song of the formerly barren woman, reveling in her children. Our support of local efforts to improve women’s health in the Global South can help create hope for thousands of women, curing a condition that has caused anguish since the time of Sarah.


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Aviva Presser Aiden

Aviva Presser Aiden is a student at Harvard Medical School. She co-founded Bears Without Borders, an organization fostering economic opportunities among developing-world artisans, and is co-founder and CTO of Lebone, a social enterprise developing microbial fuel cells as an off-grid energy and lighting solution for Africa.