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Merck Foundation boss meets Kenyan First Lady to underscore commitment to build healthcare capacity in the country

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother during the meeting with The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. MADAM MARGARET KENYATTA at the State House, Nairobi, Kenya

NAIROBI – Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany underscored their commitment to build healthcare capacity in Kenya during a high level meeting held at the State House between The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. Madam Margaret Kenyatta and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.

“It was an honor and to meet and hold talks with the Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kelej

The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. Madam Margaret Kenyatta  emphasized, “It was an honor and to meet and hold talks with the Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kelej. I am looking forward to partnering in the training of more oncologists and experts in diabetes and infertility management.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother with The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. MADAM MARGARET KENYATTA

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother  said she was proud and elated to meet madam Kenyatta to discuss Merck Foundation’s commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of people of Kenya.

“….improving access to quality and equitable healthcare in the country by training more doctors in the fields of Fertility, Cancer and Diabetes care through nationwide programs,” she said.

Merck Foundation in Kenya recently launched ‘Empowering Berna’ project under the flagship global program ‘Merck More than a Mother’ in Africa to help childless and infertile women starting their own business and thus achieve financial independence and become stronger and happier.

The project has benefited more than 100 women across Kenya.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother with The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. MADAM MARGARET KENYATTA. (COURTESY PHOTO)

The foundation has provided embryology training on fertility specialty to Kenyan doctors in the past two years and will continue this program to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care in the country including developing a two-year oncology fellowship program in partnership with University of Nairobi, Kenya to improve cancer care in the country.

Merck foundation has enrolled six doctors and will continue to enroll more in the next five years with the aim to build cancer care capacity nationwide.

Moreover, Merck Foundation also provided first ever Health Media Training to more than 150 journalists from different part of Kenya to benefit in understanding the infertility issue in African communities and to learn the best media practices to cover such issues and raise awareness by following international standards of reporting and media ethics.

It has also partnered with local singers to produce songs to address infertility stigma and empower infertile women in their communities. The songs were produced by Octopizzo and Suzan.

The “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.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother during the meeting with The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. MADAM MARGARET KENYATTA

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.

Also, part of the campaign is 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 109 candidates, in clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 30 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.

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