Merck Foundation to empower infertile women in Gambia

ANI | Updated: Feb 23, 2018 13:24 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 23 (ANI-Businesswire India): Merck Foundation, a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany, is partnering with the First Lady of Gambia, Fatoumatta Bah Barrow, to empower infertile women across Africa.

The partnership aims to achieve the Merck Foundation's objectives of raising awareness, building professional capacity and improving healthcare access in the field of cancer and fertility care in Gambia and other African countries.

Bah-Barrow is the ambassador for the 'Merck More Than a Mother' campaign.

"It was a great honor to appoint the First Lady of Gambia, Her Excellency Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, as an ambassador of 'Merck More Than a Mother' campaign. Together, we have acknowledged and encouraged infertile women groups across the country for their courage to share their stories of suffering from infertility stigma. They are 'Merck More Than a Mother' heroines. I am thrilled and proud to be a part of this great day," said Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck More Than a Mother.

"We are engaging in humanitarian ventures to improve the lives of vulnerable groups in the society. My ambition is to meaningfully contribute to the improvement of lives of women and children and address issue of infertility in our society," said Bah-Barrow.

She added, "Our partnership with Merck Foundation aims at empowering infertile women in The Gambia and ensure that they access information, education and health services by collectively working with stakeholders, communities, traditional communicators, religious leader and healthcare workers. With the support of Merck Foundation, the government is adopting important policies to enhance access and regulate safe fertility treatment."

Merck Foundation is making history in Gambia, together with the Ministry of Health and the First Lady's Foundation; we will train the first oncologist and fertility specialist in the country. According to the Ministry of Health data, Gambia has never had an oncologist or a fertility specialist; nor a cancer care facility or a fertility clinic in the country.

"I am very proud that Merck Foundation is contributing to shaping the future of Gambia by working closely with the First Lady, a wonderful lady. She is very passionate about improving healthcare in her beloved country," said Kelej CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck More Than a Mother.

In Africa, including Gambia, childless women still suffer discrimination, stigma, and ostracism. An inability to have a child or to become pregnant can result in significant isolation, disinheritance or assaults; this often results in divorce or physical and psychological violence.

During the community program, many infertile women from the community have been acknowledged by both Merck Foundation and the FaBB for their courage to share their sad tales of their suffering from infertility stigma, and ostracism by the society and their families

"Merck Foundation salutes these infertile women in Gambia, who shared their stories of suffering and discrimination. H.E. Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, the First Lady of The Gambia and me, appreciate these strong women and encourage them to establish their own business and become independent. I'm very proud of our movement in The Gambia and the rest of Africa," Kelej added.

The Merck Foundation also commit to support The Gambia through providing their oncology fellowship program to establish their first training oncologists in the country, First Lady of The Gambia emphasized.

"Merck Foundation helps us to make history in The Gambia; we will have in the next two years our first oncologists and fertility specialists in the country. This will help improve access to Fertility and cancer care significantly as currently, we do not have both specialties, and we do not even have cancer care facility in The Gambia," said First Lady of The Gambia.

The Merck Foundation also maintains its commitment to building capacity and improving access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions with particular focus on cancer and fertility care in Africa.

So far, doctors from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, Gambia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal have benefitted from Merck Foundation training programs in fertility or oncology fellowships. Merck Foundation aims to expand to more African and Asian countries in the near future. (ANI-Businesswire India)