Merck Foundation Our Africa TV Program – Fifth Episode to Break Infertility Stigma

Business Wire India
Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany has launched the Fifth Episode of their First-ever TV program – ‘Our Africa by Merck Foundation’ on their social media handles.

‘Our Africa by Merck Foundation’ is a pan African TV program that is conceptualized, produced, directed, and co-hosted by Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation to feature African Fashion Designers, Singers, and prominent experts from various domains with the aim to raise awareness and create a culture shift across Africa.

The TV program has been broadcasted on prime TV stations of many countries like KTV in Kenya, NTV in Uganda, and GH One TV in Ghana and ZNBC in Zambia, AYV in Sierra Leone and LTV, Liberia, and it immediately captured the attention and hearts of millions of viewers across Africa. “Our Africa” TV Program will soon be broadcast on TV 3 in Ghana, BTV in Botswana, KTN in Kenya and QTV in The Gambia. “Our Africa” TV Program is currently on social media handles of Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube) and Merck Foundation (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube).

The theme for the Fifth Episode is Breaking Infertility Stigma.

Watch the Fifth Episode promo here:

Watch the Fifth Episode here:

The show is co-hosted by Brian Mulondo from Uganda.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation expressed, “I am very excited to bring to you the fifth episode of ‘Our Africa by Merck Foundation’ which aims to Break the Infertility Stigma and empower Infertile and childless women and couples.

Although male factors contribute to about 50% of the causes of infertility, women are overwhelmingly perceived as being the sole responsible for a couple’s infertility, and subsequently, the social suffering and stigma associated with infertility tends to be greater for them than their husbands. This is a critical issue that needs to be addressed. This also has been the main focus for our historic campaign ‘More Than a Mother’. During the episode, we addressed that almost 50% of infertility cases are due to the male factor and also that fertility is a shared responsibility as it takes a man and woman to have a child. Men should get tested together with their wives and support them during the treatment journey. Women are more than just mothers. And Men are more than just fathers. We have communicated these important messages through our Fashion and Art with Purpose community, through fashion designs, songs, films and children story books.”

The fifth episode of ‘Our Africa by Merck Foundation’ TV program features a video about Jackline Mwende, a victim of infertility stigma. This shows how childless women in some cultures suffer from discrimination, violence, stigma, and ostracism. The video shows how Merck Foundation supported Jackline by providing her with house and supermarket so she can be independent and have a steady income. Merck Foundation has also supported many other childless women who suffered infertility stigma across Africa through “Empowering Berna” program, which is part of “More than a Mother” together with their Ambassadors, African First Ladies.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej further explains, “We support women like Jackline through our ‘More Than a Mother’ campaign. Our efforts are to initiate a cultural shift to empower women living with Infertility stigma at all levels by raising awareness; supporting girl education; training local fertility specialists, embryologists, sexual and reproductive care specialists, and media representatives with the aim to transform women’s health in Africa and developing countries and imported access to information and change of mindset. We have also partnered with African First Ladies who are the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother.”

The episode also sheds light on some serious data put forth by WHO – in developing countries, One in every Four couples suffers from primary or secondary infertility. Around 85% of infertility in Africa are due to untreated infections, these infections are a result of unsafe abortions, unsafe deliveries, STDs, FGM, child marriage and many other reasons. Hence prevention is critical and this was also emphasized during the TV program.
This episode featured fashion designers David Kusi Boye-Doye from Ghana, and Claire Asiimwe from Uganda who showcased their designs that displayed strong messages on Women are More Than Mothers, Men and More Than Fathers, #NoToInfertilityStigma, #FertilityIsASharedResponsibility and infertility prevention tips; and Santa Anzo, a renowned Fashion Designer from Uganda.

The episode also featured a More Than a Mother theme song by Sunita Daffeh, a singer from The Gambia. This song communicates that women are more than a mother and men are more than fathers. Listen and watch the song here:

Merck Foundation’s iconic “More Than a Mother” campaign led by Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej is a rallying movement to Break Infertility Stigma around women across the African continent.
Under the “‘More Than a Mother’ campaign, Merck Foundation has provided more than 435 scholarships to doctors from 38 countries, with the aim to advance women’s health and reproductive, sexual care and fertility care, by providing scholarships to doctors of one-year diploma and two-year master degree of Reproductive & Sexual care and Fertility And embryology training programs. Moreover, Merck Foundation has trained more than 2200 media representatives from more than 30 countries to raise community awareness, creating a culture shift and breaking the stigma around infertility and infertile and childless women.

Merck Foundation has also been empowering childless and infertile women through their “Empowering Berna” initiative under Merck Foundation’s “More Than a Mother” movement. This initiative helps women who cannot be treated for infertility anymore by helping them to get trained to establish small businesses so that they can be independent and re-build their lives. Through ‘Empowering Berna’, the lives of many infertile women have been transformed in many African countries like Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Niger, Malawi and many more.

Merck Foundation in partnership with African First Ladies have also launched David’s Story, a children storybook to emphasize strong family values of love and respect from a young age which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and the resulted domestic violence in the future. The storybooks have been localized for each country to have a better connect with the young readers. Read David’s Story here:

Merck Foundation, has also released more than 30 songs, many of these songs created with aim to break the infertility stigma, as a part of their “More Than a Mother” campaign. Listen to some of the songs here:

  1. Watch, share & subscribe to the ‘Plus qu’une MERE’ composed and sung by Ms. Lucky-Lou, the daughter of The President and The First Lady of Burundi:
  2. Watch, share & subscribe to the “More Than a Mother” song by Cwesi Oteng and Adina from Ghana:
  3. Watch, share & subscribe to the “More Than a Mother” song by H.E. George Weah, the President of the Republic of Liberia created to support Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” movement:

Listen to all “More than a Mother” songs here:


“To address this important issue of breaking infertility stigma and also a wide range of other social issues, we annually launch Merck Foundation ‘More Than a Mother’ Awards in partnership with African First Ladies. I would also like to invite the African Community of Media, Fashion, Film making, and Musicians, students and potential talents in these fields to apply for the awards this year, in order to create a culture shift and break the silence about one or more of the following topics: Breaking Infertility Stigma, Supporting Girl Education, Women Empowerment, Ending Child Marriage, Ending FGM, and/ or Stopping GBV at all levels. I am looking forward to receiving their creative work on [email protected],” added Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej.

“I am very excited to bring to you all the upcoming episodes of ‘OUR AFRICA by Merck Foundation’ TV program on our social media handles. So, stay tuned and be ready to Get informed, Get healthy, and Get entertained,” concluded Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej.