During the launch event, Merck Foundation CEO and President of Merck More than a Mother, Dr. Rasha Kelej awarded Her Excellency to acknowledge her efforts as “Merck More Than a Mother” Ambassador in the country.
H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia emphasized “We are excited to partner with Merck Foundation and are happy to launch their programs in our country. These programs will continue to make very significant impact on our people’s advancement, as health is very critical to our social and economic development.”
“We are very happy to award Her Excellency First Lady of Zambia, ESTHER LUNGU for her great efforts to empower infertile women as the ambassador of Merck More than a Mother. We have also underscored our long-term partnership with the Ministry of Health of Zambia to continue building healthcare capacity and train doctors in the fields of Cancer Care, Fertility, Diabetes and Hypertension. We are proud to make history by providing the first Fertility Specialist, Surgical Oncologist, Pediatric Oncologist and Gynecology Oncologist in the country. Our aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of people of Zambia and rest of Africa”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother.
Minister of Health of Zambia, Hon. Chitalu Chilufya thanked Merck Foundation for offering scholarships to Zambian medical personnel.
Dr. Rasha Kelej visited one of the villages in the Central Province to meet a group of Zambian infertile women to identify their needs and challenges and work on a concrete strategy to support and empower them and make their life happier. Also, to break the stigma of infertility through access to information, education and change of mindset using people’s natural settings such as art, fashion, films and social media to raise awareness.
Merck Foundation also introduced new and unique initiatives in the country to get the desired culture shift.
“We have introduced few innovative initiatives such as the ‘Merck more than a Mother’ Fashion Award in partnership with First Lady of Zambia and Zambia Fashion Week . We have introduced this award to encourage to create a meaningful fashion trend aiming to break the stigma around infertility and educate our communities that ‘Fertility is a Shared Responsibility’ , and not only women are responsible for it.
Also, we have called for application for ‘ Merck More Than a Mother’ Media Recognition Award to recognize and appreciate professional journalists who have produced accurate, informative and compelling stories about infertility, infertile women or couples” emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej .
Merck Foundation has also worked closely with local singers to create songs that address the sane issue to sensitize the community with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empower infertile women.
Merck Foundation also conducted the first Media Health Training in the country in partnership with The First Lady of Zambia , Ministry of Health together with Zambia Union of Journalists . It was attended by over 50 Zambian journalists and was organized to train journalists on the international standards and media ethics for reporting sensitive issues like infertility in Africa. It benefitted the journalists in understanding the infertility issues in African communities and to learn the best media practices to cover it with the aim to break its stigma and sensitize our communities through all media outlets.
Merck Foundation has started the partnership with Zambia Ministry of Health since 2016, through providing training for the first Fertility specialists in Zambia by providing clinical training on fertility specialty . Merck Foundation will continue to train more candidates to help infertile couples across the country.
Merck Foundation has provided training for the first Surgical, Pediatric and Gynecology, radiology and adult Oncologists in Zambia through one-year Merck Oncology Fellowship Program in India. Furthermore, Merck Foundation, in partnership with the First Lady of Zambia , will continue enrolling doctors from Zambia nationwide in the one year and two-year oncology fellowship program and master’s degree program in Tata Memorial Centre, University of Malaya and Cairo University respectively as a contribution to improve cancer care in the country.
Moreover, Merck Foundation will start their Merck Foundation Blue Points project to help improve access to equitable and quality diabetes care across Zambia through providing one-year on-line diabetes diploma to 10 doctors, one from each province in Zambia. Every diploma graduate will be able to establish a diabetes clinic in his center or hospital with the aim to help their respective communities to better prevent and manage diabetes.
Meet the candidates selected by Merck Foundation:
Merck Fertility/ Embryology Training
- Dr. Moses Chirwa, IIRRH, India
- Dr. Njekwa Samutumwa, Indira IVF, India
- Dr. Mubambe Mulaya, Indira IVF, India
- Dr. Mukaka Sampa, IIRRH, India
- Dr. Isiah Hansingo, IIRRH, India
- Dr. Kabisa Mwala, Surgical Oncology Fellow
- Dr. Mulindwa Makasa Justin, Paediatric Medical Oncology Fellow
- Dr. Paul Kamfwa, Gynaecologic Oncology Fellow
- Dr. Grace Mizinga Chingo, Pediatric Medical Oncology
- Dr. Swali Vusa Fundafunda, Gynaec Oncology
- Dr. Charles Kapela Mwandama, Haemato Oncology
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Merck Foundation.
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About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign
“Merck More Than a Mother” initiative aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and health and by changing mind-sets. This powerful initiative supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention and management. In partnership with academia, ministries of health and international fertility societies, the initiative also provides medical education and training for healthcare providers and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.
With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training the skills of local experts, building advocacy in cooperation with decision makers and by supporting childless women in starting their own small business. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.
The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are: H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady ofZambia; H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady ofBotswana; H.E. DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of the Republic of Burundi; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady ofCentral Africa Republic; H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady ofChad; First Lady of Ghana, H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO; H.E. DJÈNÈ CONDÈ, The First Lady ofGuinea-Conakry; H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH BARROW, The First Lady ofGambia; H.E. AISSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU, The First Lady of Niger; H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady ofSierra Leone.
Also, part of the campaign is our Merck Embryology & Fertility Training Program, a three-month hands-on practical course in partnership withIRSI, Indonesia, IIRRH, India and Manipal Academy of Higher Education (Manipal University), Indiato establish the platform of fertility specialists across Africa and developing countries. Merck Foundation provided for more than 84 candidates, in clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 29 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire , Ghana, Ethiopia , Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania , Zambia , Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Burkina Fuso, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameron, Rwanda, Botswana, DR Congo , Congo Brazzaville, Gambia , Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck more than a Mother such as;
- Merck More than a Mother media recognition award and health media training
- Merck More than a Mother fashion award
- Merck More than a Mother film award
- Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
About Merck Oncology Fellowship Program:
The Merck Oncology Fellowship Program, a key initiative of Merck Cancer Access Program, focuses on building additional capacity through medical education and training. The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.
Merck Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa and Developing countries. The program provides One-year fellowship program at Tata Memorial Centre - India, One and half-years Oncology Fellowship programs at University of Malaya - Malaysia, Two years Oncology Fellowship Program at University of Nairobi - Kenya and Two years Master degree in Medical,Surgical, Pediatric and RadiationOncology at Cairo University - Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.
Launched in 2016, over 43 candidates from more than 21 African countries have rolled in the Merck Oncology Fellowship Program. The program will continue to build cancer care capability in African countries such as Botswana, Cameroon, CAR,Chad,Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal,Sierra Leone,Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
), established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.Please go to
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Merck (www.MerckGroup.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 53,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2017, Merck generated sales of € 15.3 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma