Merck More than a Mother Campaign

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Join the conversation and reduce stigma on infertility

Merck launched the “Merck More than a Mother” campaign in partnership with the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Fertility Society to address the need for interventions to reduce stigmatization and the social suffering of infertile women. The campaign was launched in Nairobi in June 2015 by Belén Garijo, CEO Merck Healthcare.
“Providing access to infertility care is important, but it is even more important to intervene to decrease stigmatization and social suffering arising from this condition,” said Belén Garijo during the launch of the campaign.

The initiative addresses key challenges that are associated with resource-constrained settings such as prevention of infertility, education and self-development, assisted reproductive technology (ART) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) regulation, geographic barriers, reproductive rights and over-population and limited resources arguments.
The stigma that follows infertile women more often than not leads to complex and devastating consequences. These range from isolation, ostracism, discrimination, disinheritance, physical and psychological assault and even divorce.

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Front row: Prof. Koigi Kamau of the University of Nairobi, Belen Garijo, CEO Merck Healthcare, Joyce Lay Member of Parliament, Kenya, and Rasha Kelej (3rd right), Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare and international fertility experts during a session to contribute to building fertility care capacity at the University of Nairobi, Kenya

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Belén Garijo, CEO Merck Healthcare signs to show her support for Kenya’s IVF bill as Joyce Lay, a Member of Parliament in Kenya, and Prof. Koigi Kamau of the University of Nairobi look on

Together with policy makers, academia, fertility experts, the community and media, the initiative aims to challenge the perception of infertile women, their roles and worth in society, both within and beyond the medical profession in order to achieve a systemic shift in the current culture of gender discrimination in the context of fertility care in African societies.

Joyce Lay the Campaign’s ambassador

During the Merck Africa Luminary held in November 2015 in Nairobi, Dr Karl- Ludwig Kley, Chairman of Executive Board and CEO Merck, appointed Joyce Lay as the ambassador for the campaign in Kenya for the period 2015-2016 in recognition of her contribution in reducing stigmatization on infertility in the country.

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Dr Karl-Ludwig Kley, CEO of Merck congratulates Hon Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament for Taita Taveta, Kenya for her appointment as the ambassador for the “More than a Mother” campaign as Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare looks on

Dr Kley also awarded Grace Kambini, a Kenyan woman who has openly shared her story of stigmatization and suffering for being infertile for her courage in creating awareness and sharing her devastating experience so that no other woman would suffer the same. Grace is the champion of the campaign.

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Dr Karl-Ludwig Kley, CEO of Merck presents a shield to Grace Kambini to acknowledge her courage of sharing her experience with others

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Hon Joyce Lay and Rasha Kelej, with Grace Kambini (centre) as she shares her experience with infertility

About Merck Africa Luminary

The Merck Africa Luminary brought more than 200 African health care providers from more than 20 African countries and 170 health care providers from Kenya to benefit from medical and scientific education and discussion on topics like fertility, healthcare capacity building and access to high quality, innovative and sustainable healthcare solutions.

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Dr Stefan Oschmann, CEO-elect of Merck, Mr James Macharia, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Hon Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament in Kenya, Dr Karl-Ludwig Kley, CEO of Merck, Dr Evans Kidero, Governor of Nairobi, Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare and Dr Eva Muchemi, Executive Director of Kenya Diabetes Management Information Centre during the Merck Africa Luminary meeting

Improving fertility care

“In addition to creating awareness to reduce stigma, Merck through this initiative is working with stakeholders to develop and implement strategies to improve access to effective, safe and regulated fertility care in Africa. The campaign will be kicked off in other Sub-Saharan African countries in 2016” said Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare. 

The “Merck More than a Mother” campaign is supporting the In vitro fertilization (IVF) bill which is a very important step in the Kenyan healthcare system. The IVF bill will regulate IVF and infertility treatment for the first time in the country. Hon. Joyce Lay and Hon. Millie Odhiambo are the sponsors of IVF bill in the Kenyan Parliament.

Merck More than a Mother campaign in French West Africa

The “Merck More than a Mother” campaign will be launched in French speaking West Africa in 2016 as part of Merck’s commitment to improving access to effective, safe and regulated fertility care in Africa.

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Hon. Millie Odhiambo, Member of Parliament, Kenya, Dr Joyce Noreh, IVF Consultant, Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare and Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of Parliament, Kenya watch as Prof. Koigi Kamau, University of Nairobi signs his support for the IVF bill

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Read about the “Merck More than a Mother” concept and objectives here

Read about the launch of the More than a Mother Campaign with Belen Garijo here

Visit the links below to view videos related to the campaign

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With Dr Kley, Merck CEO, on the appointment of Joyce Lay as the ambassador for the “More than a Mother” campaign during the Merck Africa Luminary meeting.

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With Belen Garijo, CEO Merck Health care during the launch of Merck More than a mother campaign to sensitize the community and raise awareness about infertility.

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Grace Kambini speaks about her experience with infertility and how the community stigmatizes her for being infertile.

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Elishiba Njoki shares on both her own and her late husband’s infertility

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Joyce Lay, a Member of Parliament in Kenya talks about her experience with infertility and the IVF bill.

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Jimmy Gathu, a famous TV presenter in Kenya, who has also suffered from infertility urges men to be involved to end stigmatization as fertility is a shared responsibility.

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Pastor Nina and Antony Njoroge share their experience with infertility.

Enjoy watching the below TV interviews

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With Hon Joyce Lay on infertility and the way forward

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With Hon Joyce Lay and Prof Koigi Kamau on infertility causes, prevention and treatment

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With Hon Joyce Lay and Dr Joy Noreh on infertility and how to overcome associated stereotypes

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With Hon Joyce Lay and Dr Joy Noreh on IVF and surrogacy

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With Hon Joyce Lay and Hon Millie Odhiambo on the IVF motion debate in Kenya’s Parliament

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Join the campaign - Together we create a culture shift

Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare adds: “I would like to ask you to take a moment and watch the campaign’s videos and TV interviews and join the “Merck More than a Mother” social media campaign to reduce stigma, create awareness and define interventions to improve access to better fertility care in Africa”.
”Let your voice be heard on” Kelej added.
 
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For more information on the Merck More than a Mother initiative please visit
Merck more than a Mother Home