Merck Foundation discuss the Fertility Capacity Building with African Ministers at the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)

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Merck Foundation engages policymakers to define interventions to improve access to regulated and cost effective Fertility Care in Africa and Developing Countries

Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA, Germany (www.Merck.com), in partnership with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), conducted ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ panel at their Regional conference 2018, in Dubai.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation stated during the panel discussion, “Through ‘Merck More than a Mother’, we want to bring the healthcare providers, policy makers, academia, women leaders, media, and artists together to define the interventions to break the infertility stigma around women and to build fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.”

She further emphasized, “Merck Foundation is dedicated to empowering women who suffer discrimination and violence due to their inability to bring children, by creating the cultural shift to break the infertility stigma at all levels, not only in Africa, but in Asia, Latin America and everywhere it is needed.”

The high-level panel discussion included; Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of state of Health, Uganda, Hon. Zuliatu Cooper, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone, Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams, Chairman of National Council of Namibia, Hon. Dr. Chitalu Chilugya, Minister of Health, Zambia, and the CEO OF Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Hon. Dr. Chitalu Chilugya, Minister of Health of Zambia, emphasized, “Infertility is one of the major health problems in Zambia, and it is not only affecting the physical health but also the mental well-being and social status, of childless women. These women often become invisible to the society, and many time they do not want to come in open to seek help because of the social stigma associated with infertility. Together with Merck Foundation, we want to remove the stigma associated with it by creating a cultural shift and building cost-effective fertility care in Zambia.”

During the panel discussion Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams, Chairman of National Council of Namibia, stressed, “Infertility is profoundly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, which is said to have an “infertility belt” wrapped around its center, the infertility rate is much higher in southern Africa. Particularly in Namibia infertility prevalence rates for some ethnic groups is as high as 32 percent [1], or one-third of all couples attempting to conceive, which is why initiatives like ‘Merck More than a Mother’ are significant for Namibia and we are glad to partner with Merck Foundation for this initiative.”

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