Programme to raise awareness about infertility launched – Mensah appointed ambassador
Merck Foundation this week launched their ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ programme in partnership with the Chairperson of the National Council of Namibia, Hon. Margaret Mensah- Williams and the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
The programme is set to build fertility care capacity and break the stigma around infertile women in the country.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO Merck Foundation in a statement said, “the time is ripe for a shift in mindset around the issue. Not only husbands mistreat women [due to infertility], mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law can also influence their son or brother to harass his wife because she cannot have children. All this has to change”.
According to her the programme will not only focus on the education of adolescence about infertility prevention, but also on the trainings and awareness around infertility and infertility stigma.
“We are also calling on Members of Parliament to advocate for this in their communities. A little bit of information which takes one minute can save lives, happiness, and can change culture and beliefs around you,” she added.
She further said the media could play a crucial role in sensitizing citizens on infertility, its prevention and the role of men and women in the fight. “Therefore, we are going to launch media recognition award and media training program to prepare the media to advocate and raise awareness with the aim to break the stigma around Infertility,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Merck Foundation has appointed Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams, as the ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign, to work with Merck Foundation in defining interventions, and to break the stigma around childless women across the country.
“Together we will transform the lives of unprivileged women, who suffered infertility stigma all their live,” added Kelej.
Speaking at the same occasion, Mensah-Williams indicated that infertility is a reality which should be addressed.
“Don’t care. Shine your shine. You don’t owe anybody an explanation. If God decides the time for you to bear a child, you shall bear that child. Don’t worry about people when they talk. They talk about us every day. You know what? I don’t care. I shine,” she said.
According to her infertility is profoundly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, which is said to have an “infertility belt” wrapped around its centre, the infertility rate is much higher in southern Africa.
“Particularly in Namibia infertility prevalence rates for some ethnic groups is as high as 32%, 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 initiativ,” she added.
Merck Foundation through ‘Merck More than a Mother’ initiative will provide 3 to 6 months clinical and practical training to healthcare providers to create fertility specialists in Namibia. Merck foundation will also provide training for nurses to be fertility counselors.
Caption: Dr. Rasha Kelej (left), the Chief Executive of the Merck Foundation, welcoming Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams (right) as the Merck Foundation’s Namibian Ambassador for the pharmaceutical’s “More Than a Mother” campaign. A certificate of courage was presented to Linda Haiduwa as Namibia’s first More than a Mother heroine. (Photograph contributed).