Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany conducted their First Merck Health Media Training in Nairobi, Kenya. The training program was attended by over 200 journalists representing multimedia, print and online media from 17 African countries.
“I am excited to conduct this training session and glad to see attendance from so many media representatives. We focused on the international standards and media ethics for reporting sensitive issues like infertility in Africa. It was designed to benefit the journalists in understanding the infertility issues and to learn the best media practices to cover such issues. With the success of this program, we look forward to scale it up to Francophone African countries and Asian countries in 2018” said Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck more than a Mother.
The training program was a part of ‘Merck more than a Mother’ community awareness program. It was organized to emphasize on the important role that media plays to influence our society to create a cultural shift with the aim to break the stigma around infertility in general and infertile women in particular.
It was addressed by the stalwarts of media community from Asian and African countries including India, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Kenya and South Africa. Also present were top fertility experts from Africa.
During the training program, Merck Foundation announced the start of new hashtags #MenToo and #NoForInfertilityStigma to invite media from all over Africa to share its opinions and stories on social media about the topic.
This program also provided an excellent opportunity for the journalists from Africa to network with each other and work as a unit to eradicate the stigma around infertility.
“The media community has immensely benefitted from this training program. I appreciate the efforts by Merck Foundation to bring together all African media and important stakeholders on one platform. This will definitely result in the required cultural shift across the African communities” emphasized Tom Mshindi, Editor-in-chief, Nation Media Group.
“It is a great initiative by Merck Foundation, it helped to educate media about infertility prevention and male infertility which very critical for Africa, since around 85% of infertility caused by untreated infectious diseases, hence prevention is very important. And also that how infertility is preventable in many cases” said Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Fertility Society, Nigeria.
The program saw attendance from journalists from various African countries like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Gambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, Botswana, Liberia, Cameroon, Burundi, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Sierra Leona.
The list of speakers included Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO Merck Foundation; Pauline Wanjiku Kibui, first female Embryologist in Kenya; Dr. Koigi Kamau, Chairman, Kenya Fertility Society; Dr.Wanjiru Ndengwa, Gyn and IVF Specialists, Kenya; Dr. Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, BW Business World & Exchange4media, India; Tom Mshindi, Editor-in-Chief, Nation Media Group; Jean-Luc Emile, Chief Editor and news presenter, Radio Plus and Teleplus, Mauritius; Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Fertility Society, Nigeria; Dr. Tareq Muhammad Salahuddin, Editor of Health Section of The Daily Star, Bangladesh; Mathatha Tsedu, Health Journalist from South Africa and Renee Ngamau, Capital FM, Kenya.
“Not only media but Art also has the capacity and influence to make the problem felt, which further stimulates emotions and leads to engagement then action. So, we have collaborated with famous singers; Suzanna Owíyo and Octopizzo from Kenya, Tom Close from Rwanda and Rozzy from Sierra Leone to launch three theme songs: “Warriers”, “Life is Bigger”, “More than a Mother” addressing the issue with specific focus on Male infertility to encourage men to speak up about their infertility and join the treatment journey with their wives. The songs were released during the award ceremony and I personally believe that they will add significant value to influence the culture change we are advocating for at all levels” added Dr. Rasha Kelej.
Merck Foundation also held an award ceremony for “Merck More Than a Mother” Media Recognition Awards 2017 on the 9th of July. The awards were organized to emphasize the role of media in enhancing the public engagement and understanding of infertility stigma and the need to change its social perception in African communities.
Merck foundation also announced the call for application for “Merck more than a Mother” Media Recognition Award 2018 at the end of the ceremony and encouraged all African media to be advocate for the campaign and apply for the competition.