Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany partnered with The First Lady of Burundi, Angeline Ndayishimiye, during a high-level meeting held between Dr RashaKelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Burundi First Lady.
During the meeting, Merck Foundation underscored their long-term commitment to continue their efforts to build healthcare capacity, empower girls in education and break the infertility stigma in Burundi. The First Lady of Burundi was also appointed as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother during the meeting.
"I am very happy to partner with Merck Foundation and excited to capitalize on their valuable programs in our country. These programs will create a very significant impact on our people's advancement, as health is very critical to our social and economic development. As the Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother, I will work closely with Merck Foundation to sensitize our communities to better understand infertility and empower women through access to education, information, health and change of mindset and also empower our girls through education," said Angeline Ndayishimiye, The First Lady of Burundi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother expressed.
"I am very proud of our partnership with Burundi First Lady and welcome her as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother and new member of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative-MFFLI. We have discussed our long-term collaboration and partnership with her Foundation and Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education to build healthcare capacity in Burundi, by providing training to doctors in the fields of Cancer, Fertility, and Diabetes care. With the outbreak of the global pandemic, building healthcare capacity is more significant than ever, and through our long-term partnership we are looking forward to creating a strong medical army in Burundi," said Dr RashaKelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother.
"The Burundi First Lady had also attended Merck Foundation's first Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) VC Summit held last month, which was attended by a total of 13 African First Ladies and introduced her development programs in Burundi," Dr RashaKelej added.
Merck Foundation has conducted their capacity building programs in Burundi for the past three years through their partnership with Burundi government and Former First Lady of Burundi, Denise Nkurunziza.
Merck Foundation has provided specialty training to more than 31 doctors from Burundi and will continue doing so for the next 10 years plan.
Merck Foundation made history by providing training to the first oncologist and fertility specialists and embryologists in Burundi.
So far 10 doctors have completed the fertility and embryology training, and together with Burundi First Lady, more doctors will be trained to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care in the country.
Merck Foundation has also trained the first Oncologist in Burundi and will continue enrolling doctors for oncology fellowship program as a contribution to improve cancer care in the country.
Moreover, Merck Foundation has provided Diabetes care training to 20 doctors and is going to train more doctors, one from each province. After completion of the training, these doctors should be able to establish a diabetes clinic in his/her Health Centre or Hospital with the aim to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities.
"We will continue our new important Program "Educating Linda", in partnership with the First Lady of Burundi together with the Ministry of Education. Under this program, we have sponsored 20 girls in 2019 and will sponsor the education of 20 best performing girls in their secondary schools this year and for the next 10 years. We strongly believe that Education is one of the most critical areas of women empowerment," said Dr. RashaKelej, One of 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020).
Merck Foundation also announced a winner from Burundi for their "Stay at Home" Media Recognition Awards from French-speaking African countries.
About 'Merck More Than a Mother' campaign
"Merck More Than a Mother" is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe, effective and equitable fertility care solutions. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility.
In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education and Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists 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 at all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. 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:
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 Community Awareness Campaign, such as;
'Merck More than a Mother' Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training
'Merck More than a Mother' Fashion Awards
'Merck More than a Mother' Film Awards
Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
Children storybook, localized for each country
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( With inputs from ANI )
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