By Christine Muchira
Merck has launched the “Merck More than a Mother” campaign in partnership with the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Fertility Society to address the need for interventions to reduce stigmatization and the social suffering of infertile women.
Speaking during the launch of the campaign in Nairobi, Belén Garijo CEO Merck Healthcare, said it is important to intervene to decrease stigmatization and social suffering arising from infertility.
“Providing access to infertility care is important, but it is even more important to intervene to decrease stigmatization and social suffering arising from this condition,” said Belén Garijo.
The initiative addresses key challenges that are associated with resource-constrained settings such as prevention of infertility, education and self-development, assisted reproductive technology (ART) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) regulation, geographic barriers, reproductive rights and over-population and limited resources arguments.
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.
Together with policy makers, academia, fertility experts, the community and media, the initiative aims to challenge the perception of infertile women, their roles and worth in society, both within and beyond the medical profession in order to achieve a systemic shift in the current culture of gender discrimination in the context of fertility care in African societies.
Joyce Lay was appointed as the ambassador for the campaign in Kenya for the period 2015-2016 in recognition of her contribution in reducing stigmatization on infertility in the country.
Dr Kley awarded Grace Kambini, a Kenyan woman who has openly shared her story of stigmatization and suffering for being infertile for her courage in creating awareness and sharing her devastating experience so that no other woman would suffer the same.
Grace is the champion of the campaign.
Improving Fertility Care
“In addition to creating awareness to reduce stigma, Merck through this initiative is working with stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to improve access to effective, safe and regulated fertility care in Africa. The campaign will be kicked off in other Sub-Saharan African countries in 2016” said Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare.
The “Merck More than a Mother” campaign is supporting the In vitro fertilization (IVF) bill which is a very important step in the Kenyan healthcare system. The IVF bill will regulate IVF and infertility treatment for the first time in the country.
Hon. Joyce Lay and Hon. Millie Odhiambo are the sponsors of IVF bill in the Kenyan Parliament.
“I’d like to ask you to take a moment and watch the campaign’s videos and TV Interviews and join the “Merck More than a Mother” social media campaign to reduce stigma, create awareness and define interventions to improve access to better fertility care in Africa, let your voice be heard on” Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare added.