Merck Foundation Marks World Artificial Reproductive Technology Day, Trains Embryologists and Fertility Specialists across Africa and Asia

MERCK Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks ‘World ART Day 2020’ through providing long term hands-on embryology training and clinical fertility specialists training to develop local Embryologists and fertility specialists to improve access to quality and cost-effective fertility care in Africa and Asia, this is as part of Merck More than a Mother campaign.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation, President of Merck More than a Mother and One of 100 Most Influential Africans (2019) emphasized, “I strongly believe in the critical role of Embryologists and fertility specialists to empower infertile women through improving their access to information, change of mindset and quality & equitable fertility care.

I am very proud that as part of ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ campaign in partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Academia and Fertility Societies, we were able to provide hands on long term embryology training and clinical fertility specialists to develop more than 182 local Embryologists & Fertility Experts from 35 countries, many of them were trained to be the first local embryologists in many countries where they never had local embryologists or fertility specialists before such as; The Gambia, Burundi, Guinea, Niger, Chad, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Liberia. Together with you, Merck Foundation Alumni and our partners, we are making history and reshaping the landscape of fertility care.”

Merck Foundation will also provide on line one-year diploma and two years master degree in sexual and reproductive medicines from UK University to more than 80 doctors from Africa and Asia to contribute to our mission to break the stigma around Infertility and reshape the landscape of fertility care in the global south.
African First Ladies of 18 Countries are working closely with Merck Foundation as Ambassadors of Merck more than a Mother including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Namibia, Mozambique, Liberia, Guinea Conakry, The Gambia, DR Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, CAR, Botswana and Burundi (former First Lady) and Malawi (Former First Lady).

“The African First Ladies have partnered with Merck Foundation to lead and execute many initiatives in their respective countries as Merck More Than a Mother Ambassadors to empower infertile women and break the stigma around infertility. This speaks volume about the work we are doing” added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation has trained more than 82 Embryologists in addition to over 100 Fertility Specialists from 35 countries which are: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, CAR, Cote D’IVOIRE, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malaysia, Liberia, Mali, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Niger, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka The Gambia, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia & Zimbabwe.

Merck hands-on Embryology and Fertility specialists Training program is an ongoing initiative and Merck Foundation will continue to train more doctors and embryologist in more African, Asian and developing countries.

About Merck Fertility & Embryology Training Program Merck Fertility specialists & Embryology Training Program was launched in 2016 as part of Merck More Than a Mother in partnership with African First Ladies and ministries of health. Under this program, Merck Foundation has been providing hands-on practical training to candidates from Africa and Asia, in partnership with many training institutes such as; the Indonesian Reproductive Science Institute (IRSI), Indonesia; International Institute for Training and Research in Reproductive Health (IIRRH), India; Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), India and Indira IVF Hospitals, India.

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 & 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.

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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