The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has lauded the Merck Foundation for championing the cause to break the jinx around infertility issues on the African continent.
Speaking at the 9th Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary Conference in Dubai, Mrs Akufo-Addo said infertility remained a huge challenge especially for African women, often making them a subject to gross injustice and stigmatisation.
“Growing up, I saw how stigma and lack of support traumatised women labelled as infertile and to me, this was gross injustice.
“The ‘More Than a Mother’ initiative by the Merck Foundation aimed at breaking the stigma around infertility was timely and strikes a chord in my heart considering the fact that it seeks to throw light on infertility and its attendant stigma, particularly against women,” she stated.
The luminary which brought together African First Ladies, healthcare practitioners, academics and journalists among other individuals, sought to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solution while addressing stigma associated with some medical conditions.
It discussed interventions to improve access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care to advance socio-economic development.
Mrs Akufo-Addo noted that through the support of Merck Foundation, Ghana had received specialist training for some medical officers which has contributed to improving access to equitable and quality healthcare solutions in the healthcare sector.
“The support provided by Merck Foundation to support infertility and other medical conditions in Ghana has been immense and advocates for a cultural shift that supports women and society,” she added.
She expressed her office’s commitment to working closely with the Merck Foundation to promote women and girl-child education which was key, to national development.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Merck Foundation, Dr Rasha Kelej, commended African First Ladies for their collaborative roles in helping to break infertility stigma on the continent.
She said the inputs of the various African First Ladies had gone far to raise awareness on the Foundation’s “More Than a Mother” initiative, adding that the conference would serve another platform to discuss strategies and solutions to improve quality healthcare delivery among African countries.
“I am happy that the Merck Foundation has realised the strategy to improve access to quality healthcare solutions in each country in Africa,” she noted.
Dr Kelej outlined various interventions undertaken by the Merck Foundation through its scholarships in the area of building capacity of medical doctors across the African countries in diabetes, cardiovascular, endocrinology, cancer, fertility care, women health, sexual and reproductive care, respiratory medicines, acute medicines and research.
She said it was the Foundation’s goal in the nearest future to train more health personnel in areas of Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Mental Health, Orthopedic Trauma, Paediatric, Emergency Medicine, Dermatology, Neonatal Medicine, Pain Management, Psychiatry, Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Ophthalmology, Urology, Trauma and orthopedics.
The Chairman of both Executive Board of E Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Professor Dr Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, expressed his appreciation to all the African First Ladies for working to raise awareness on infertility, diabetes and hypertension and encouraged them to continue to work with the foundation to improve healthcare delivery in the region.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH