Breaking the stigma around infertility “Merck More than a Mother” championed by Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari

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  • “Merck More than a Mother” launched in Nigeria in  partnership with Senate Commission on Health; Ministry of Health and Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
  • “Merck More than a Mother” aims to empower infertile women by improving access to information, education, healthcare and change of culture and mind set to de-stigmatize infertility in Nigeria.

 
“Merck More than a Mother” campaign was launched in Nigeria championed by the country’s first lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Aisha Buhari. The launch held in Abuja, Nigeria is in partnership with Senate Commission on Health; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and Future Assured Foundation.  
  
“Merck More than a Mother” continues its commitment to break stigma around infertility and empower infertile women by improving access to information, education, healthcare and change of culture and mind set to de-stigmatize infertility. 


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Watch here the video of the launch event in Abuja including the high level panel discussion

 

Her Excellency Mrs. Buhari in a speech read on her behalf by Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the Vice President pledged her support in the implementation of “Merck More than a Mother’s” activities in Nigeria focused on eliminating infertility stigma and creating awareness and providing information and education on causes of infertility; facilitating access to healthcare; and economic and social empowerment of infertile women.

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Watch here HE Mrs Buhari’s speech that was read on her behalf by HE Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the Vice President of Nigeria


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Discussing the way forward with Merck More than a Mother in Nigeria, H.E. Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the Vice President of Nigeria and Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer of Merck Healthcare

 In her address Dr. Toyin Saraki, wife to the Senate President, assured support for the campaign in Nigeria and called for a partnership between government and the private sector to make infertility treatment affordable in the country. “On behalf of my fellow senators’ wives we are committed to support this campaign and we will carry the message of “Merck More than a Mother” to every senate area of Nigeria,” she said. 

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Watch here the speech of Dr Toyin Saraki, wife of the Senate President, Nigeria

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Watch the remarks of Hon. Aisha Alhassan, Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development  

 

“In Nigeria we have been advocating for the end of harmful traditional practices including the stigmatization of women which is prevalent all over the country. Women have not been coming out openly because they are traumatized. With this campaign we will encourage them to speak out and we pledge our support and collaboration,” said Hon. Aisha Alhassan, Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development.   

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Watch the remarks of Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare 

“Merck More than a Mother” campaign is a great initiative to break the stigma around infertility and to empower an unprivileged category of women in Africa, women who suffer infertility. Infertile women have been neglected, mistreated and discriminated because they cannot bear a child, yet 50% of infertility is due to male factors. We can together improve access to education, information, awareness, health care and change of mind-set and culture to stop these women’s suffering,” said Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare.
 
A panel discussion of fertility experts and policy makers during the launch called for an end to the stigmatization of infertile women; creation of awareness and education on the causes of infertility and management since untreated STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia may be the cause of up to 85% of infertility among women seeking infertility care which can be treated and prevented; male infertility; building advocacy for the development of artificial reproductive therapy (ART) laws to improve the governance and quality of fertility care; improving access to fertility care by integrating it into public reproductive health services and building the capacity to provide quality and safe fertility care through training. 

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Helen Phillip, one of the infertility stigma victims in Nigeria after enrolling in "Merck More than a Mother’s" 'Empowering Berna' project

 

 The panelists also supported the empowering of infertile women who form a vulnerable part of the population. Infertile women in Nigeria and many other African countries who can no longer be treated and have been empowered socially and economically to lead independent and happier lives through “Empowering Berna” initiative. “Empowering Berna” is part of “Merck More than a Mother” campaign.

 
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The panel included Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria; Prof.  Isaac Adewole, Hon. Federal Minister of Health, Nigeria; Hon. Aisha Alhassan, Federal Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Nigeria; Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of State of Health, Uganda; Hon. Joyce Lay,  Member of Parliament, Kenya; Dr. Mohammed Kamal, National Coordinator, Future Assured; Prof.  Oladapo Ashiru, President Africa Fertility Society and Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck.   

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Dr. Mohammed Kamal, National Coordinator, Future Assured Foundation, Nigeria
 

“Merck More than a Mother” is addressing the socio-economic challenges facing infertile women by empowering them. This fits into the goals and priorities of Future Assured Foundation which include improving the health of women and children. Empowered women are able to take care of their health by seeking medical assistance and this forms the basis of our collaboration with Merck. We commit to support the successful implementation of the campaign’s activities in Nigeria,” said Dr. Mohammed Kamal, National Coordinator, Future Assured Foundation.


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Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of State for Health, Uganda


“A lot has been done in regard to women’s health, but not a lot on infertility. In Uganda for example there are only five fertility clinics which are all located in the capital city. Since we launched “Merck More than a Mother” early this year in Uganda, to improve access to fertility care we have been trying as a country to integrate fertility care services and awareness about prevention, management and male infertility into the already existing public reproductive healthcare services which will be cost effective as the infrastructure is already there,” said Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of State for Health and "Merck More than a Mother" ambassador, Uganda. 
 
 

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Hon. Prof. Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health of Nigeria (centre) with Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso (left), Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria and on the right, Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer Merck Healthcare


Prof. Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, Nigeria emphasized: “We are responsible for policy at the ministry level and this is where we can make a difference in improving access to fertility care in Nigeria. We will work through training institutions we are responsible for to strengthen fertility management by making it a sub-specialty. We will also as a ministry work with private sector, the senate and the national assembly to improve governance and quality of care to provide standards to protect infertile men and women seeking treatment.”



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Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria
 

Speaking on the need and importance of enacting regulations to govern artificial reproductive therapy (ART), Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria said that the country will soon join the list of countries in Africa that are working to have relevant laws in place. “An ART bill covering all fertility interventions is at the first reading stage at the Senate,” he said.

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Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament, Kenya

 

Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament and “Merck More than a Mother” ambassador for Kenya emphasized the need to stop defining women by the number of children they have. “Society and family members need to accept and support infertile women. There is need to join hands with men to address infertility as women have been the only ones bearing the pain, tears and shame alone.”
 

 
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Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President, Africa Fertility Society
 

“The World Health Organization has recognized infertility as a human rights issue and every man and woman has a right to have a child and needs to be supported by all including the government,” said Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Fertility Society.

"Merck More than a Mother" was first implemented in Kenya in 2015 followed by Uganda, Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire and Central African Republic.
 


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At the "Merck More than a Mother" event launch in Abuja: Dr. Mohammed Kamal National Coordinator, Future Assured Foundation; Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament, Kenya; Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria; Dr. Rasha Kelej (centre), Chief Social Officer, Merck; HE Dolapo Osinbajo, Wife of Vice President of Nigeria; Dr. Toyin Saraki, Wife of Senate President, Nigeria; Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of State of Health, Uganda; and Prof.  Isaac Adewole, Hon. Federal Minister of Health, Nigeria
 

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Watch the long version of "Merck More than a Mother" Launch – Abuja Championed by H.E. First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari
 

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H.E. Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, high level panelists and wives of governors from Nigeria together with infertile women who have benefitted from ‘Empowering Berna’ project 
 

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Jackeline Mwende, the recent victim of Infertility stigma tells us her story of suffering of terrible violence by her husband. 


Merck More than a Mother will work hard to ensure that no other woman should suffer the same way Jackeline did.

Watch Nigeria’s infertile women sharing their stories of social suffering of infertility stigma and their transformation after the economic and social empowerment provided by “Merck More than a Mother” through “Empowering Berna” project.
 
 


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Merck More than a Mother - The story of empowering Helen Philip, Nigeria
 

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Merck More than a Mother - The story of empowering Victoria John Kuba, Nigeria


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Merck More than a Mother - The story of empowering Kachollom. M. Sha 
 


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Merck More than a Mother - The story of empowering Khadijat Yaya, Nigeria
 

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Merck More than a Mother - The story of empowering Oluchi Omenife, Nigeria
 

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Merck More than a Mother - The story of empowering Chinelo Azodo, Nigeria 


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 Merck More than a Mother - The story of empowering Ijeoma Ezeaku 
 

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 Merck More than a Mother - The story of empowering Nneka Omenife, Nigeria

For more information on the “Merck More than a Mother” initiative please visit www.merckmorethanamother.com

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