Nairobi News


Campaign lifts veil on infertility among women

February 23rd, 2017 3 min read


Merck, a science and technology company, has announced ” Merck more than a Mother “and the start of “Merck STEM for Women and Girls” campaigns aimed at supports infertile women through access to information, health and change of mind-set.

The announcement was made at a Nairobi summit attended by top government officials and maternal health advocates. Speaking at the event in Nairobi, Belén Garijo, Member of Executive Board and CEO of Merck Healthcare emphasized: “I believe in women empowerment and especially childless women – they are mistreated and discriminated in many cultures for being unable to have children and start a family. Empowering these women through access to information, health, and change of mind set to remove the stigma of infertility is needed. Through “Merck More than a Mother” we are supporting this strong message together with our partners and we will continue our commitment to improve access to regulated and effective fertility care in Africa.”

Madame Brigitte Touadera, the First Lady of the Central African Republic (CAR) emphasized: “I am very happy to participate in today’s event of ‘Merck More than a Mother” in Kenya as it follows the one we had for the Central African Republic (CAR) last month. As the champion for the initiative in CAR and for Francophone Africa, I acknowledge the role that “Merck More than a Mother” is playing to break the stigma around infertile women and to raise awareness about infertility prevention, male infertility and the necessity of a team approach to family building among couples which is very critical for Africa.”

“It is very important to empower infertile women through improving access to awareness and fertility care so they can bear children as part of their human rights. In case they can no longer be treated, ‘Empowering Berna’ project will contribute towards empowering and training them to establish their own small business so that they can be independent and re-build their lives – a woman is more than a mother, ‘Empowering Berna’ initiative will prove this every day,” Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer Merck emphasized.

In 2016, over 1,000 infertile women in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Liberia, Ghana, Central African Republic and Cote D’Ivoire who can no longer be treated have been empowered socially and economically to lead independent and happier lives through the “Empowering Berna” project.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Cleopa Mailu stated: “As a ministry we are happy with the strategic partnership we have with Merck in Kenya through its Merck Capacity Advancement Program initiatives which are boosting our healthcare capacity with special focus on diabetes, cancer and infertility which contribute to the country’s economic progression”.

“In recognition of the important role women can play in the economic and social development of Africa, Merck is empowering them to participate in STEM where they are currently under-represented, through the “Merck STEM Program” which we are launching today,” Garijo said.

Merck will inaugurate their initiative at OLYMYPIC School where they equipped their library with a Computer Lab to encourage young girls to study science and technology as part of their “STEM for Girls and Women” program in Africa. Furthermore the winners of UNESCO-MARS awards will act as ambassadors in their respective countries.

The Governor of Nairobi County, Evans Kidero announced during his keynote speech: “We are happy to partner with reputable and innovative companies such as Merck. We believe that the only way to effectively tackle the health and research related challenges we are facing can only be through establishing Public Private Partnership models in implementing successful programs. The size and complexity of the task is so large that no single organization or institution can manage on its own, so integration of efforts is necessary to achieve the health gains that our nation deserves”.

“The Merck STEM Program will encourage our young women and girls to undertake science and technology related courses and make active contribution to the social and economic development of our country”, Kidero added.

“Through this program Merck is targeting to empower over 7,000 girls and 60 women researchers across Africa in 2017 through various initiatives which include setting up computer libraries in schools similar to the one we are launching today for the first time in Kenya at Olympic School in Kibera, Nairobi, and appointing the UNESCO-MARS research award winners as ambassadors for the ‘Merck STEM Program” Rasha Kelej added.