Honourable organisations and individuals are hard to come by and this is why it’s important to recognise and showcase their efforts. The Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa (IFAASA) and its founder, Meggan Zunkel, are perfect examples, as they both advocate for the rights of people suffering from the inability to bear children.
Where It All Began
For Meggan, this mission started well before the IFAASA organisation was formed in 2010. She saw the plight of patients when it came to getting support schemes from their medical aid providers. She had also gone through the IVF cycle and was saddened by the exclusion of infertility treatments in the Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB) list. To add insult to injury, the condition was placed next to wilful participation in terrorist activities as something the providers would not cover.
The Growth of Infertility Activism
Motivated by the under-representation of patients, Meggan began to spread awareness through online forums, garnering a great deal of support in the process and finally establishing IFAASA. With the assistance of an attorney and her strong following, a draft was submitted to the Council of Medical Schemes (CMS). This led to the board investigating how financial healthcare providers discriminated against couples and individuals who were unable to bear children, with the results of the inquest still pending.
June 2013 saw IFAASA going against Discovery Health at its Annual General Meeting (AGM). Meggan got 240 signed proxies from forums, which would help get the board to recognise infertility as a PMB. Their argument was that the medical aid provider discriminated against couples suffering from the condition. Strong arguments were put forward by Marcia Jerome, Susan Tozer and Saskia Williams who submitted the presentation.
Though IFAASA didn’t get the 51% vote from the AGM for their case to be taken further, their research and argument was solid. Furthermore, this was enough for the board to investigate the grievance even further. This news was received well by Meggan and others who had also been involved with the case.
The heroic members of IFAASA should be celebrated for their attempts to advocate for the rights of hopeful families. They are the first of their kind in South Africa, which is surprising since one in six people suffer from infertility. Their efforts are now starting to bear fruit, with the recent victory at the Discovery Health AGM being one such example.
One can only imagine how many more victories IFAASA will celebrate. If their current activities are anything to go by, this group shall go down in the history books for being an inspiration to everyone in the country and continent who dream of starting a family.