Merck Foundation Moves to End Stigma of Infertility in Africa

By Dipo Olowookere

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, has taken a huge step towards breaking the stigma associated with infertility in Africa using the media to achieve this goal.

The organisation said it would start its first Merck Health Media Training on July 10, 2018 from 10am to 5:30pm at Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi.

The training program is part of ‘Merck more than a Mother’ community awareness initiative. It is being organized to emphasize the important role that media plays to influence the society to create a cultural shift with the aim to break the stigma around infertility in general and infertile women in particular.

During the training, Merck Foundation will announce the start of new hashtags #MenToo and #NotoInfertilityStigma to invite media from all over Africa to share its opinions and stories on social media about the topic.

Merck Foundation will bring media from more than 15 African countries to come together to break the infertility stigma in the continent. The training would also provide an excellent opportunity for the journalists from Africa to network with each other and work as a unit to eradicate the stigma around infertility.

The journalists would be drawn from various African countries like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Gambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, Botswana, Liberia, Cameroon, Sierra Leona, etc.

“I am very happy to initiate this important training session and the two hashtags on the social media platform, inviting all media representatives to share it on their platforms. #MenToo can be the cause of infertility #MenToo can suffer the infertility stigma and social pressure. #NoToInfertilityStigma for women and #Mentoo is the key message we wish to deliver”, explained Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck more than a Mother.

Merck Health Media Training Program is planned to follow the Merck more than a Mother Media Recognition Awards Ceremony which will be held on the 9th of July to recognize the winners from Kenya and East Africa.

Dr Rasha Kelej further explained the reason of creating this award “We announced the ‘Merck More than a Mother Media Recognition Awards’ in 2017 with the aim to emphasize the role of media in enhancing the public engagement and understanding of infertility stigma and the need to change its social perception in African communities.”

Through the award ceremony, Merck Foundation will honor the winners of “Merck More Than a Mother” Media Recognition Award 2017, for their outstanding journalistic coverage to break the stigma around infertility in African communities. The award ceremony will be attended by eminent media personalities, fertility experts, infertile women, award winners and other distinguished media people from across Africa.

“The Merck Health training program will focus on the international standards and media ethics for reporting sensitive issues like infertility in Africa. It is designed to benefit the journalists in understanding the infertility issues in African communities and to learn the best media practices to cover such issues. We look forward to scaling this program to Francophone African countries and Asian counties in 2018” Dr. Rasha Kelej added.

Merck Foundation appreciates the outstanding health journalism and seeks the support of Health Media across Africa to achieve the objective of creating a culture shift and breaking stigma around infertility and infertile women.


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