Freetown [Sierra Leone]/Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], August 19 (ANI/BusinessWire India): Senator, Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany met H.E. DR. JULIUS MAADA BIO, The President of Sierra Leone and H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone and Ambassador of Merck Foundation 'More Than a Mother', during her visit to Sierra Leone and participating as a guest of honor at the 10th African reproductive and sexual rights of women.
Senator, Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation "More Than a Mother" was invited by the First Lady of Sierra Leone to participate at the 10th African Conference on Sexual Health and Rights hosted by the Office of the First Lady in Freetown, the Republic of Sierra Leone, to deliver the keynote speech to advocate for women reproductive and sexual health and rights, during a high-level Meeting themed - Women Renaissance and closing ceremony chaired by the president of Sierra Leone.
Senator, Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, "It was a great honor for me to join this high-level panel with the First Lady of Sierra Leone, H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO and The Vice President of Liberia, H.E. Dr Jewel Howard Taylor, to discuss our efforts to empower women and support girl education and improve their access to health, information and change of mindset. I also spoke about Merck Foundation programs to build healthcare capacity through providing more than 43 scholarships for doctors from Sierra Leone in 32 critical medical specialties; especially that is related to women's health and reproductive health such as fertility specialty, embryology and sexual and reproductive care and also other specialities like Oncology, Diabetes, Endocrinology, Orthopedics, Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Clinical Psychiatry, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine, Respiratory Medicine and Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine. Most of these doctors are first in their specialities, we are making history together. I was also proud to share about the progress of our 'Educating Linda' and "Merck Foundation More Than a Mother" Campaign to support girl education and break infertility stigma respectively."
Merck Foundation CEO awarded The First Lady of Sierra Leone to acknowledge her efforts as the Ambassador of Merck Foundation 'More than a Mother' campaign.
H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Ambassador of Merck Foundation "More Than a Mother" campaign emphasized, "It has been an honor to host and meet my dear sister Senator, Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation in person in my country after a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am very proud of our long-term partnership with Merck Foundation, the programs we work on are very close to my heart. Our partnership with Merck Foundation has brought about a significant positive change in our public healthcare landscape and patient care quality of Sierra Leone."
During her visit, Merck Foundation CEO joined the First Lady of Sierra Leone for a formal visit to Hospital 34 renovation. "I am impressed to witness the high quality and speed of the hospital work. I am looking forward to collaborate through Merck Foundation programs and continue our long-term commitment to train young doctors, nurses and technicians, especially in Oncology to improve access to quality and equitable cancer care," expressed Dr Kelej.
During her visit, Merck Foundation CEO acknowledged Merck Foundation Alumni who are the future healthcare experts of Sierra Leone.
Merck Foundation CEO also shared the efforts they made to provide more than 1300 scholarships to doctors from 45 countries in 32 critical and underserved specialties, which she believes has and will still have huge impact on transforming the quality and accessibility of patient care in those 45 countries.
About 'Merck Foundation More Than a Mother' campaign
"Merck Foundation 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 in defining policies and interventions to build quality and equitable Reproductive and Fertility Care Capacity, Break Infertility Stigma and Raise Awareness about Infertility Prevention 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 Foundation 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.
The Ambassadors of "Merck Foundation More Than a Mother" are:
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 Foundation More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;
- 'Merck Foundation More than a Mother' Africa Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training
- 'Merck Foundation More than a Mother' Fashion Awards
- 'Merck Foundation More than a Mother' Film Awards
- 'Merck Foundation More than a Mother' Song 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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