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Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother with H:E President Hage Geingob and H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother

Merck Foundation meets the President of Namibia to underscore their long-term partnership with the First Lady of Namibia to break infertility stigma

March 20, 2020

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother with H:E President Hage Geingob and  H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother with H:E President Hage Geingob and H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother

Merck Foundation launched their programs in partnership with Namibia’s First Lady together with Ministry of Health & Social Service and Ministry of Education

Merck Foundation to train doctors in the fields Cancer, Diabetes and Fertility Care to build healthcare capacity in the country

Merck Foundation to train media to break the stigma of infertility in partnership with The First Lady of Namibia

Windhoek, Namibia: Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany underscored their commitment to break infertility stigma and build healthcare capacity in Namibia during their high-level meeting held at the State House between The Head of State of Namibia, H.E. HAGE GEINGOB, The F irst Lady of Namibia, H.E MONICA GEINGOS and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation. The objective of the meeting was to explain and discuss the programs of Merck Foundation, which were launched in partnership with Namibia First Lady and Ministry of Health & Social Service and Ministry of Education.

H.E. HAGE GEINGOB, the President of Namibia emphasized “Namibia needs t he programs of Merck Foundation break Infertility Stigma and train media t o sensit ize communities about health and sensitive issues. Moreover, the training programs for specialized doctors are very critical for our people and their social and economic well- being. I wholeheartedly support Merck Foundation in our country, to enable the success of all their programs.”

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother with H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother during the launch event

The First lady of Namibia and Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother, H.E. Mrs. MONICA GEINGOS emphasized the importance of this campaign to break the silence of the Namibian women who suffered from the stigma of infert ilit y . Also emphasized the critical role her office is going to play to be the voice of these women to empower them through advocacy, access to information and change of mindset.

“I am very happy and proud of partnership with the First Lady of Namibia and Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother. This partnership will help us to break the stigma of infertility and empower childless women through access to information, health and change of mindset. It will also help us to train specialized doctors in t he fields of Diabetes, Oncology and Fertility care which will contribute significantly towards social and economic development in Namibia. We are committed to lead Africa to a better future through changing the landscape of healthcare in the continent”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation also plans to introduce other unique initiatives in t he c ountry t o 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 Namibia together with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. Also, launching an inspiring children storybook of Paulus and Limbikani to strengthen family values of love and respect since young ages which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and result ed domest ic violence in the future. Also, 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 out ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ Fashion Awards for Namibia and rest of Africa. We will also be launching our special project ‘Education Linda’, which helps young girls who are unprivileged but brilliant to continue their education.”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

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 hal f – 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 Oncology at Cairo University – Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.

Launched in 2016, Merck Foundation has trained more than 80 Oncology Care Specialists from 26 countries which are: Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC , Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinee, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign

“Merck More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign 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, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists 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 local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. 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. FATOUMATTA BAHBARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry H.E. AISHA BUHARI, The First Lady of Nigeria H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad H.E. C LAR WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOUNGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia H.E. SYLVIA BONGO ONDIMBA, The First Lady of Democratic Republic of Congo H.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe

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 COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;

‘Merck More than a Mother’ Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training

• ‘Merck More than a Mother’ Fashion Awards • ‘Merck More than a Mother’ Film Awards

• Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it

• Children storybook, localized for each country

*Source Merck Foundation

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