LILONGWE, Malawi – Merck Foundation is set to launch their programs in partnership with First Lady of Malawi and Ministries of Health, Information, Education and Gender; Merck Foundation to train Malawian doctors in the fields Cancer, Diabetes and Fertility Care to improve access to equitable and quality healthcare in the country.
The Foundation is also set to launch ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ Fashion Awards to create a meaningful fashion trend aiming to educate our communities that ‘Fertility is a Shared Responsibility’.
Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany in partnership with The First Lady of Malawi, H.E. PROF. Gertrude Mutharika together with Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information and Ministry of Gender launched their programs to build equitable and quality healthcare capacity and break the infertility stigma in the country.
Ms. Mutharika said “I am happy to welcome Merck Foundation to officially launch their programs which are going to be very beneficial for the people of our country. These programs will prove very significant in creating an impact on our people’s advancement, as health is very critical to our social and economic development. The programs will also help to break the stigma of infertility across the country which is very critical. We are happy that Merck Foundation understands our culture and working closely with Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck foundation as an African woman adds value to the success of the programs since she is coming from similar background.”
Dr. Kelej said “It is very important for us to underscore our long term partnership with Mutharika. We will be training Malawian doctors in the fields of Diabetes, Fertility and Cancer care in partnership with the Government of Malawi. Our aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of people of the continent.”
During the launch program, Merck Foundation together with The First Lady of Malawi and Ministry of Education and Ministry of Information also launched an inspiring children story of Limbani and Takondwa for children to strengthen family values of love and respect since young ages which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and resulted domestic violence in the future.
These programs will prove very significant in creating an impact on our people’s advancement, as health is very critical to our social and economic development
Dr. Kelej emphasized, “The aim of this story is to emphasize strong family values of love and respect from young age. The story of Limbani and Takondwa is a story of a husband and wife who couldn’t have children but they never lost love or respect for each other, the man supported his wife during the fertility treatment journey and acknowledged that he too can be the cause of infertility and lived happily ever after. He also acknowledged that even if they both couldn’t bring children for any reason that they will still love and respect each other’s because they are more than parents.
It’s important for parents and caregivers to start teaching their children respect and nurturing empathy from a very young age. We should teach boys these qualities at their schools and through media. I believe both boys and girls need the same kind of guidance.”
Merck Foundation also plans to introduce other unique initiatives in the country to create the desired culture shift with regard to breaking the stigma around infertility.
“Few initiatives include announcing the ‘Merck more than a Mother’ Media Recognition Award and Health Media Training for the first time in the country in partnership with The First Lady of Malawi together with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Information. Also, creating songs in partnership with local artists to address the stigma related to infertility and educate people across the country. In addition to involving fashion industry to deliver the message of breaking the stigma of infertile women to the community in day to day life which will be achieved by launching ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ Fashion Awards”, added Dr. Kelej.
Moreover, Merck foundation will be providing clinical training on fertility specialty in partnership with ministry of health to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care in the country.
Merck Foundation will also continue enrolling doctors from Malawi in their one-year oncology fellowship program as a contribution to improve cancer care in the country.