"Merck More than a Mother" Championed by H.E. First Lady of Nigeria-Launched in Lagos

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  • "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 has launched its "More than a Mother" campaign during two big events in Lagos and Abuja.


Watch this video for a summary of the high level panel discussion on infertility challenges and solutions in Africa

"Merck More than a Mother" launch in Nigeria is in partnership with Senate Committee of Health, Africa Fertility Society, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Association for Fertility and Reproductive Health in Nigeria, the Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) and Future Assured Foundation.

The initiative will also empower infertile women in Nigeria who can no longer be treated socially and economically to lead independent and happier lives through “Empowering Berna” project which is part the campaign (stories are shared on www.merckmorethanamother.com).

Helen Philip (center), an infertile woman from Nigeria shares her story of suffering and how her life has changed through the 'Empowering Berna' Project

Watch here the video of the launch event in Abuja Championed by First Lady of Nigeria

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

Presiding over the launch of the campaign in Lagos Nigeria, Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, the Chair of the Senate Committee of Health who is also an ambassador of the campaign in Nigeria expressed the Senate’s appreciation of the partnership with Merck that will bring about an attitude change towards infertile women.

Watch Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria and Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare

Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare, Prof. Brian Adinma, President, SOGON and Dr. Richard H. Reindollar, Chief Executive Officer, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

"This campaign will bring attention to the challenge of infertility that not much effort has been put to recognise. We have not seen a campaign that addresses this very sensitive issue before," Prof. Brian Adinma, President, SOGON commented.

"As an ambassador for this campaign in Nigeria and the only male ambassador together with our partners I will make a difference especially in reaching out to men who have been shy to come out to talk about infertility considering that over 50% of infertility cases are due to male factors," Dr. Lanre added.

"Above all, I am personally working on the ART bill to sponsor it in the parliament to regulate ART and fertility care in the country," he emphasized.

"Merck More than a Mother" campaign is a great initiative to empower an unprivileged category of women in Africa, women who suffer infertility. They have been neglected, mistreated and discriminated because they cannot bear a child. The campaign will empower infertile women in Africa through improving access to information, awareness, health and change of mind-set,” said Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare.

Watch the speech of Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer at Merck More than a Mother launch in Lagos Nigeria.

Yiannis Vlontos, Head of Intercontinental Region, Merck with Dr. Faye Ikutobosin, President Nigeria Reproductive and Fertility Society and Prof. Joe Leigh Simpson, former President of International Federation of Fertility Societies

Speaking at the launch in Lagos, Yiannis Vlontzos, Head of Intercontinental Region, Merck emphasised the company’s support of the “Merck More than a Mother” campaign. “This campaign is adding value by engaging with patients, families and communities. We are working for their well-being and that is what Merck is here for,” he said.

Panellists Dr. Faye Ikutobosin (3rd left) Hon. Joyce Lay (5th left), Dr. Rasha Kelej (6th left) and Dr. James Olobo-Lalobo (4th right) and other guests with some of the infertile women empowered through ‘Empowering Berna’ project

During the launch, a panel of fertility experts, policy makers, and academia discussed the need for creating awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility; building advocacy for the development of artificial reproductive therapy (ART) laws; improving access to fertility care by integrating fertility care into public reproductive health services and building the capacity to provide quality and safe fertility care through the training of African embryologists. The launch also advocated for developing and enforcing policies to protect women from being disinherited as a result of childlessness.

Watch the full event here

The panel included: Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, the Chairman, Senate Committee of Health of Nigeria; Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament, Kenya; Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson, former President of International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), Dr. Richard H. Reindollar, Chief Executive Officer of ASRM, Dr. Faye Iketubosin, President Nigeria Reproductive and Fertility Society; Yiannis Vlontos, Head of Intercontinental Region, Merck; Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Fertility Society; Dr. James Olobo-Lalobo, Vice-President of Africa Fertility Society, Uganda; Prof. Brian Adinma, President, SOGON; Dr. Chris Agboghoroma, Secretary General, SOGON; Dr. Ibrahim Wada, Chairman of Garki General Hospital and Vice Chair of Nisa Fertility Hospital, Nigeria, and Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare; Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament, Kenya and Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President Africa Fertility Society

“No woman deserves to go through violence for being unable to bear a child. People need to come out and speak about infertility and create awareness that a woman is more than a mother,” said Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament and “Merck More than a Mother” ambassador for Kenya.

Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria; Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare; Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament, Kenya and Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President Africa Fertility Society

“We need a multi-sectoral approach to address infertility. Policy makers need to support budget allocation for establishing fertility clinics, and for research and training of specialists,” said Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Fertility Society.

Prof. Joe Leigh Simpson, former President of International Federation of Fertility Societies; Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso, Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria and Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare

“Infertility has now been recognised by the World Health Organisation as a human rights issue. Every man and woman has a right to available interventions to have a child,” said Prof. Joe Leigh, Simpson former President of International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS).

“In order to build capacity to provide quality and safe fertility care Merck has joined hands with Indonesian Reproductive Sciences Institute (IRSI) to provide advanced embryology training starting with Kenya and Uganda. The next candidates will come from Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Ivory Coast and will expand to the rest of Africa,” Rasha Kelej, Chief Officer of Merck Healthcare emphasized.

Dr. Richard H. Reindollar (centre), Chief Executive Officer, American Society for Reproductive Medicine with Prof. Joe Leigh Simpson (extreme right) with other fertility experts and infertile women from Nigeria who have been empowered through the ‘Merck More than a Mother’ campaign.

Additionally, American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) will join hands with “Merck More than a Mother” to provide combined theoretical and practical training course for African embryologists,” said Dr. Richard H. Reindollar, Chief Executive Officer of ASRM. The joint venture will start in 2017.

The story of Grace Kambini from Kenya demonstrates why ‘Merck More than a Mother’ is important for Africa. Read and watch her story and other infertile women here http://www.merckmorethanamother.com/Empowering%20Berna.php

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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