1st Lady’s Foundation joins forces with MERCK on infertility awareness

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Gambian First Lady’s Foundation has joined forces with MERCK in an infertility awareness exercise at Sanyang village on Feb. 5, on the theme, “MERCK more than a Mother” to assist women with infertility to improve lives as 14.3% of Gambian women are said to be infertility.

 During the exercise, First Lady Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow said she was engaging in humanitarian ventures to improve the lives of vulnerable groups in society, saying her ambition was to meaningfully contribute to the improvement of lives of women and children and address issues of infertility.

 She said her foundation’s partnership with MERCK is aimed at empowering infertile women in The Gambia and ensure that they access information, educate and provide health services by collectively working with stakeholder communities, traditional communicators, religious leader and health workers. “To change the mindset that impedes infertile couples to access treatment and support, government is adopting important policies to enhance access and regulate safe fertility treatment.”

 She said the awareness campaign will help to shape understanding of the challenges that infertility poses in the country’s development and to address the cultural and structural driver that increases female stigmatisation and discrimination.

 Chief executive officer of MERCK Foundation, Merck Rasha Keleji, said The Gambia is luck to have a first lady who is an advocate of women and health in particular to improve lives through raising awareness of disease prevention and early detection through access to information, health and changing mindset.

 She added that they will train gynecologists and other medical specialists to treat cancer and infertility for the next five years and expand professional capacities in research, technology and health.

 Janko Jimbara, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare said the “Merck more than a Mother” initiative aimed to empower infertile women through the provision of access to information, education and communication interventions for safe and effective fertility care and facilitate the initiation of cultural shift to de-stigmatise infertility and empower local communities by support barren women in starting small business.

 She said infertility is caused by infections and traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, unsafe abortion and home deliveries. “It left great worry and sorrow to couples especially in Africa and in some cultures, childless women suffers stigma and discrimination, isolation, neglect, assault, divorce, physical and psychological violence. The launching of Merck will set a platform to build capacity and women empowerment.

Author: Rose Zahra Gomez