Celebrate ‘Womanhood’ before ‘Motherhood’Merck More than a Mother" Initiative
With advent of advanced medical technology the chances of attaining motherhood have become promising. Merck pharma, a global leader in Healthcare through "Merck More than a Mother" in partnership with the International Federation of Fertility Societies ( IFFS) conducted a high level panel discussion to address infertility challenges at IFFS event held in New Delhi, India.
The aim of “Merck More than a Mother” is to empower infertile women through improving access to education, information and health and change of mind-set and in case they cannot be treated the campaign is empowering them economically and socially through “Empowering Berna” Project so that they can be independent and re-build their own lives.
A high panel discussion which brought together luminaries like parliamentarians and international fertility experts from International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) voice to infertility issues, highlight the lack of access to regulated fertility care and create awareness about infertility management and widespread stigma of infertile women was held in New Delhi . Some of the members Included Ms.Sarah Opendi, Honble Minister of Health, Govt of Uganda, Dr. Richard Kennedy, President of IFFS; Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Fertility Society, Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare amongst many more of them in attendance.
The panel voiced the need for augmented efforts to improve access to regulated fertility care through the development of Artificial Reproductive Therapy (ART) laws and regulations and to empower infertile women through access to education and information.They discussed different interventions to remove the infertility stigma and empower a culture shift and change in mindset among the masses.
Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of Health, Uganda stipulated that efforts were being made to integrate fertility care into the already existing public reproductive health care services in her country, to make it affordable to all. She further added “We are building a hospital for Women Health where we will dedicate an IVF center to provide couples with affordable and effective treatment with the support of Merck to train the future staff.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare added ‘Merck More than a mother’ aspires to spreading awareness about infertility issues, aims to change the mindset and deep-rooted prejudice against infertile women through education and empowerment, improving access to affordable infertility treatment and spreading awareness so that couples initiate treatment early".
“In our culture, a woman is always blamed for infertility. She carry’s the shame, embarrassment and tears in private. We need to create awareness by providing information and education on infertility so that both men and women can talk about it. “Merck More than a Mother” campaign has opened discussions on infertility and is talking about solutions and interventions available,” said Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament, Kenya.
The stigma that follows infertile women more often than not leads to complex and devastating consequences. These range from isolation, ostracism, discrimination, disinheritance, physical and psychological assault and even divorce. “Merck More than a Mother” initiative that aims to build fertility capacity, raise awareness about prevention of infertility and male infertility. It also opens a dialogue to define interventions to reduce the stigma and social suffering of infertile women in Africa.
At the event, Merck showed a few videos of African infertile women who shared their stories of suffering due to failing to have children and their transformation after meeting Merck more than a Mother team who helped empower them socially and economically.
This seminar signaled the dawn of a new sunrise of hope for infertility and convinced all that a united commitment by law-enforcers, policy makers, and healthcare company and fertility specialists can change the paradigm of infertility management.