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Merck Foundation brings together 15 African First Ladies to break the stigma of Infertility

Merck Foundation brings together 15 African First Ladies to break the stigma of Infertility

Merck foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) Summit 2019 was attended by as many as Fifteen African First Ladies to discuss the strategy to break the stigma of infertility and empower women and girls in Education.

Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany conducted Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) – Summit in on 30th -31st March and 1st of April 2019. The MFFLI Summit 2019 was attended by 15 African First Ladies.

Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees emphasized, “Merck through its foundation is committed to support the social and economic development of Africa, Asia and developing countries by building healthcare capacity. Our aim is to improve access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions across African continent”.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother explained, “I am very proud to partner with the African First ladies to become “Merck more than a Mother” ambassadors and partner with them to build healthcare capacity , break the stigma of infertility and empower women and girls in education with special focus on STEM . During our strategy meeting, we shared experiences, discussed challenges and defined solutions to ensure continuous improvement and exchange variable aspects of different cultures in order to localize specific messages that can raise health awareness and create a culture shift to empower women and girls  across Africa.”

The Summit was attended by:

H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana;

H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi

H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic

H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo;

H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana

H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia;

H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry;

H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Republic of Liberia;

H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi;

H.E. MARIAM MINT AHMAD TEKBER, The First lady of the Mauritania;

H.E. DR. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique;

H.E. MADAM MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia;

H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger;

H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone;

H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGW, The First Lady of Zimbabwe

A special training program was organized for the First Ladies’ technical teams to enable them to achieve the agreed objectives and follow up on Merck Foundation’s programs of building capacity in different sectors.

H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi said, “Thanks to Merck Foundation for inviting me. We recently launched their programs in my country, and they are proving to be very substantial. They will be proving clinical training on fertility and oncology to our doctors. We also provided together the Health Media Training to the journalists to understand the infertility issues and to break the stigma attached to infertility”

H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic explained, “I am very proud to work closely to advance healthcare sector and empower infertile women in my country”.

H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo emphasized, “I am happy to know that Merck Foundation will help train our doctors and media to raise awareness about health issues and improve patient care in my country .  This will prove to be very beneficial for our citizens.”

H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana explained, “Through Rebecca Foundation, we have been working closely with Merck Foundation to empower women and youth. Also, we have also launched together unique initiatives like media recognition, Film and Fashion Awards in our country to break stigma around infertility. I am sure that our partnership will go a long way towards benefitting the people of my country.”

H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia emphasized, “Merck Foundation has provided training to first fertility specialists and first oncologists in The Gambia. We are making history together. We will continue this program in partnership with my foundation and Ministry of Health to improve access to cost effective and quality fertility and cancer care in the country.”

H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry said, “I am proud of our association with Merck Foundation. They supported the establishment of First IVF Centre in our country by providing expert. They also trained the first fertility specialists and specialized oncologists in Guinea. This is a great milestone. Together we will

Change the landscape of Fertility and cancer care in the country.”

H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Republic of Liberia emphasized, “I am happy to partner with Merck Foundation. They will provide specialized training to our doctors in the field of Fertility, Oncology and Diabetes Management. They will also train media to break the infertility stigma and will launch initiatives to empower women and girls in education. We hope that our partnership will continue to benefit the people of our country.”

H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, the First Lady of Malawi said, “I am very proud and happy to be a part of MFFLI Summit and look forward to a long term partnership with Merck Foundation. We will closely work together on all their initiatives to build healthcare capacity and train our media to sensitize our communities on sensitive issues like infertility stigma.”

H.E. DR. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique emphasized, “I am excited to be a part of MFFLI Summit. I welcome all the initiatives of Merck Foundation in my country.”

H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger emphasized, “I am the Ambassador of “Merck more than a Mother”  in my country to help raise awareness about infertility prevention, management, male infertility and to break the stigma around infertile women to empower them, as they are not just child bearers. Merck Foundation has provided clinical training to our doctors in the field of Fertility, Oncology and Diabetes. I would like to thank them for this and hope they continue to support us.”

H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGW, The First Lady of Zimbabwe said, “I am very excited to be the ambassador of Merck more than a Mother Ambassador and welcome Merck foundation to our country. We hope that we will soon launch their programs in together so that the people of Zimbabwe can also benefit like other African Countries.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Merck Foundation.

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Website: www.Merck-Foundation.com

Join Merck Foundation online community to exchange experience and information with other healthcare providers, researchers, students, policy makers and community members in Africa and beyond. www.Merck-Foundation.com free registration.

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign;
“Merck More Than a Mother” initiative aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and health and by changing mind-sets. This powerful initiative supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention and management. In partnership with academia, ministries of health and international fertility societies, the initiative also provides medical education and training for healthcare providers and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training the skills of local experts, building advocacy in cooperation with decision makers and by supporting childless women in starting their own small business. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child. 

The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are: H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana; H.E. DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of the Republic of Burundi; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central Africa Republic; H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad; H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana; H.E. DJÈNÈ CONDÈ, The First Lady of Guinea-Conakry; H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH BARROW, The First Lady of Gambia; H.E. KEÏTA AMINATA MAÏGA, The First Lady of Mali, H.E. AISSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU, The First Lady of Niger; H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone; H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia.

Also, part of the campaign is our Merck Embryology & Fertility Training Program, a three-month hands-on practical course in partnership with IRSI, Indonesia, IIRRH, India and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Manipal University), India to establish the platform of fertility specialists across Africa and developing countries. Merck Foundation provided for more than 84 candidates, in clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 29 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire , Ghana, Ethiopia , Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania , Zambia , Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Burkina Fuso, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameron, Rwanda, Botswana,  DR Congo , Congo Brazzaville, Gambia , Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda. 

Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck more than a Mother such as;

  • • Merck More than a Mother media recognition award and health media training 
  • • Merck More than a Mother fashion award 
  • • Merck More than a Mother film award 
  • • Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it

About Merck Oncology Fellowship Program
The Merck Oncology Fellowship Program, a key initiative of Merck Cancer Access Program, focuses on building additional capacity through medical education and training. The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.

Merck Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa and Developing countries. The program provides One-year fellowship program at Tata Memorial Centre - India, One and half-years Oncology Fellowship programs at University of Malaya - Malaysia, Two years Oncology Fellowship Program at University of Nairobi - Kenya and Two years Master degree in Medical, Surgical, Pediatric and Radiation Oncology at Cairo University - Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.

Launched in 2016, over 43 candidates from more than 21 African countries have rolled in the Merck Oncology Fellowship Program. The program will continue to build cancer care capability in African countries such as Botswana, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.   Please go to www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.

About Merck:
Merck (www.MerckGroup.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 53,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2017, Merck generated sales of € 15.3 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma.


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Family photo of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) Summit 2019 (L to R) H.E. First Ladies of Burundi, Mauritania, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Niger, Malawi, Merck Foundation CEO, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Liberia

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