Windhoek - Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, in partnership with the First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, have underscored their commitment to breaking infertility stigma and build healthcare capacity in Namibia.
The commitment came through a campaign announced during a high-level meeting held at State House last week. The objective of the meeting was also to explain and discuss the programmes of Merck Foundation which were launched in partnership with the First Lady and the ministries of education as well as health and social services.
"Merck More Than A Mother" is a strong campaign that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and a change of mindsets. This powerful movement supports government in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility.
Continentally, the campaign partners with African First Ladies, government ministries, academia, international fertility societies and the media. The initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.
As part of the campaign, the foundation has also launched new innovative initiatives to further sensitise local communities about infertility prevention and its stigma breakage plus empowerment of infertile women.
The innovative initiatives include media recognition awards, health media training, fashion and film awards, a children's story book which has been localised for every country, as well as local songs by local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to address it. The foundation also plans to introduce other unique initiatives in the country to create the desired shift tackling this unheralded problem.
Speaking at the meeting, President Hage Geingob emphasised that Namibia needs such programmes aimed for the good of the people. He said the training programmes for specialised doctors were very critical for social and economic well being.
"I wholeheartedly support Merck Foundation in our country, to enable the success of all their programs." he added.
Also speaking at the same occasion, the First Lady, who is also an ambassador of Merck More Than A Mother campaign, stressed the importance of this campaign to break the silence of Namibian women who suffered from the stigma of infertility. She also stated that her office will play a critical role to be the voice of these women, to empower them through advocacy and access to information.
The chief executive officer of Merck Foundation, Dr Rasha Kelej, expressed gratitude on the support from the Namibian leadership for their campaign.
"We are committed to lead Africa to a better future through changing the landscape of healthcare on the continent," Kelej said.