First ladies pledge to bar­ren women

Pres­i­dents’ spouses to join in cam­paign with health min­is­ters of sev­eral coun­tries

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - AFRICA NEWS - AN­GELA OKETCH Aoketch@ke.na­tion­media.com

Five African first ladies have pledged to fight stigma as­so­ci­ated with child­less­ness.

The Cen­tral African Repub­lic, the Gam­bia, Chad, Niger and Guinea first ladies said they were com­mit­ted to a long term part­ner­ship with Merck Foun­da­tion’s More Than A Mother drive to im­ple­ment fertility and can­cer ac­cess pro­grammes.

They will be as­sisted by Ugan­dan, Ethiopian and Sierra Leonean health min­is­ters.

Merck More Than A Mother cam­paign aims at em­pow­er­ing bar­ren women through ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and chang­ing so­ci­ety mind­set.

The foun­da­tion also sup­ports gov­ern­ments in defin­ing poli­cies to en­hance ac­cess to reg­u­lated, safe and ef­fec­tive fertility care.

Its pro­grammes cover Tan­za­nia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zam­bia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Gam­bia, Ghana, Ethiopia and Core d’ivoire.

Merck Foun­da­tion CEO and founder of the cam­paign Rasha Kelej said gov­ern­ments would be brought on board now that first ladies had ac­cepted to be am­bas­sadors of the pro­gramme.

“Merck More Than A Mother has ini­ti­ated a cul­tural shift to des­tig­ma­tise in­fer­til­ity by sup­port­ing the women start small businesses. It is about giv­ing ev­ery woman the re­spect and help she de­serves,” she said.

Dur­ing Merck Africa Asia Lu­mi­nary Con­fer­ence in Cairo, Egypt, Kelej played a video of a Kenyan woman whose hands were chopped off by her hus­band for not bear­ing chil­dren.

Cha­dian First Lady Hinda Deby Itno said she was will­ing to lead the cam­paign.

“We are dis­cussing the ex­e­cu­tion of train­ing pro­grammes for fertility spe­cial­ists in my coun­try which will con­trib­ute to help­ing cou­ples to find so­lu­tions to their prob­lems,” she said.

Guinea First Lady Djene Kaba Condé said she was in­volved in com­mu­nity aware­ness drives back home.

“I wel­come this noble cause to save women from dis­crim­i­na­tion and mis­treat­ment,” she told the gath­er­ing.

Cen­tral African Repub­lic’s Brigitte Touadera said she would con­tinue with what she started last year. She re­ceived an award from Merck Foun­da­tion for her role as am­bas­sador for More Than A Mother cam­paign in 2016 and 2017.

The con­fer­ence was at­tended by more than 450 health­care providers, pol­icy mak­ers and re­searchers from Africa and Asia.

Train­ing pro­grammes for fertility spe­cial­ists in my coun­try...will con­trib­ute to help­ing cou­ples find so­lu­tions to their prob­lems” Hinda Deby Itno

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