Merck Foundation CEO and Malawi First Lady Meet to discuss healthcare capacity building program and More Than a Mother Campaign

November 12, 2021 23:30 IST | ANI Press Release

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Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej with The First Lady of Malawi

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]/ Lilongwe [Malawi], November 12 (ANI/BusinessWire India): Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, met H.E. Mrs. MONICA CHAWERA, The First Lady of Malawi and Ambassador of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother.

Senator, Dr. RashaKelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother expressed, “I am honoured to receive my dear sister, H.E. MONICA CHAWERA, The First Lady of Malawi and Ambassador of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother, to discuss our long-term partnership and programs to build healthcare capacity, support girl education, and empower infertile women in Malawi. I was glad to award Her Excellency to acknowledge her efforts as the Ambassador of Merck Foundation More than a Mother campaign.

We have been working very closely with her and the Government of Malawi to provide scholarships of specialty training for the First Specialists in many fields such as – Fertility, Sexual and Reproductive Medicines, Oncology, Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Respiratory and Acute Medicines with the aim to transfer patient care in the country. I feel proud that we have already enrolled 20 young Malawian doctors for these specialty trainings. Many of them will be the first specialists in Malawi. We are making history together.”

H.E. Mrs. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of Malawi and Ambassador of Merck Foundation More than a Mother said, “It has been an absolute pleasure to meet Senator, Dr. RashaKelej, CEO of Merck Foundation in person for the first time. I am proud of our partnership with Merck Foundation, the programs we work on are very close to my heart as a woman. Our work with Merck Foundation has brought about a significant positive change in the healthcare landscape of Malawi. I will continue to work closely with Merck Foundation in order to empower infertile women and support girl education as we work towards empowering our girls in education through Merck Foundation’s ‘Educating Linda’ program.”

Merck Foundation through their ‘Empowering Berna’ initiative has empowered infertile and childless women by helping them to establish their own small businesses so that they can be independent and re-build their own lives.

Moreover, Merck Foundation through their ‘Educating Linda’ program has sponsored the education of 40 best performing girls in their secondary schools till they graduate.

“I truly believe that Education has the power to enable young girls to make their own decisions, stand up for their rights, and help them to access economic opportunities. An educated girl not only contributes for the better future of her own family, but can also contribute to the social and economic development of a country,” added Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, One of the 100 Most Influential African women (2019, 2020 & 2021).

Merck Foundation in partnership with The First Lady of Malawi together with Ministry of Education has also launched three children storybooks titled: “ChosadziwaPhiris’ story” to emphasize on the strong family values of love and respect from a young age which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and resulted domestic violence in the future, “Educating Alinafe Story” to emphasize on the importance of empowering girls through education and “Make the Right Choice Story” to raise awareness about coronavirus prevention amongst children and youth as it provides facts about the pandemic and how to stay safe and healthy during the outbreak. 30,000 copies of the three storybooks have been distributed to young readers, school students of Malawi.

Moreover, together with The Malawi First Lady, Merck Foundation has introduced 6 important Awards for Media, Fashion, Film, and Music fraternity.

Speaking about the Awards, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej explained, “We have announced the 2021 edition of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother Awards for our Media, Fashion, Film making, and Music fraternity to raise awareness on the important topics of breaking the stigma around infertility, underscoring the importance of girls’ education and women empowerment at all levels. Together, we have also announced “Mask Up With Care” Media Recognition Awards and “Make Your Own Mask” Fashion Awards, Coronavirus theme-based awards for Media and Fashion fraternity, as this will help in raising awareness about continuing the best practices and also show support to our frontline workers in the country and the rest of Africa”.

About ‘Merck Foundation More Than a Mother’ campaign

“Merck Foundation 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, effective and equitable fertility care solutions. 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 Foundation More Than a Mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility at 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.

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 Foundation More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;

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

‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Fashion Awards

‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Film Awards

‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Song Awards

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

Children storybook, localized for each country

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