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Merck Foundation CEO, Rasha Kelej on course to fight for ‘infertile’ women

Merck Foundation CEO, Rasha Kelej on course to fight for ‘infertile’ women

Also read: Merck More Than A mother media awards

One woman’s quest to fight infertility stigma amongst women:  Merck Foundation CEO Rasha Kejel


Dr. Rasha Kelej


Dr. Rasha Kelej

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Dr. Rasha Kelej

In most parts of the world, especially in Africa, inability to give children is among a woman’s worst nightmare.

Most women who end up childless in marriage endure not only humiliation but psychological torture and dishonor.

Harrowing stories of women can leave one in tears. It is unbearable, painful and shameful. But the situation is slowly changing as societies embrace change and get more enlightened on real causes of infertility and role of both men and women in dealing with the challenge.

Speaking to journalists during the launch of “Merck more than a mother” media recognition awards in Nairobi last Friday, the President of Merck Foundation, Rasha Kelej (pictured above), said her company is teaming up with all stakeholders especially the media to challenge the perception of infertile women in Africa.

See below some heart wrenching stories compiled by Merck in its Merck More Than a Mother campaign:



She said she has already teamed up with the first ladies of Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the Central Africa Republic. They are also working in Uganda with the Ministry of Health and they have plans on working with the First Lady of Kenya.

“The campaign is mainly aimed at creating awareness, help governments define policies to improve access to safe and effective fertility care and reduce stigmatization of infertile women,” she said.

“According to the World Health Organization, 1 out of 4 couples in Africa suffer from infertility. 50% these cases are associated with men as much as women. 85% are due to untreated infections in women. This is the reason why Merck saw it fit to create awareness and emphasize on the importance of prevention programs in Africa,” she said.

Also read: Merck More Than A mother media awards

According to Rasha, the main causes of infertility include untreated sexually transmitted infections, unsafe abortions and female genital mutilation. Other causes include poor nutrition, exposure to smoking and leaded petrol and other environmental pollutants.

“Infertility affects men and women equally and therefore prevention is a collective responsibility,” said Rasha.

It is highly advised that couples go for checkups together. Infertility awareness should also be integrated within HIV prevention, family planning and mother care programs. These programs should teach women about lifestyle factors associated with infertility and also about environmental pollution and contamination.

The foundation is partnering with the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Fertility Society to reduce stigmatization and the social suffering of infertile women.

Merck is a leading science and technology company in Germany. On June 26th, 2017 it established a foundation to deal with corporate social responsibility. Under their many corporate responsibility activities they came up with an initiative called “MERCK More than a Mother” to help create awareness about infertility in developing countries.


More about Merck More than a Mother Media Recognition Awards

Merck Foundation has launched the “Merck More than a Mother” ‘Media Recognition Awards’ Call for Applications. The awards have been established to showcase and appreciate outstanding health journalism and to recognize individual professional journalists and students who have produced accurate, informative, and compelling stories about infertile women or couples.
The Awards will honor and reward outstanding journalistic coverage that enhances the public engagement and understanding of infertility stigma and the need to change the social perception of it in African communities.
The Award is open to print, video broadcast, photo journalists and media students whose stories appear in newspapers, websites, blogs and television and that target the public.
Submission deadline for stories and photos is31st AUGUST 2017.
Applications can be submitted via
                             Prize Award
Multimedia (TV)
USD 5000
USD 3000
USD 1500
USD 1000
USD 1500
USD 1000
USD 1500
USD 1000

Word from the judges

Story By Stephanie Odhiambo, Student, Daystar University

Edited by James Ratemo, Editor- KenyaCurrent.Com


Also read: Merck More Than A mother media awards