Merck Foundation CEO and The Gambia First Lady co-chaired 2021 Annual Summit to Continue Building Healthcare Capacity, Break Infertility Stigma and Support Girl Education

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CEO of Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, and H.E. Mrs. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia & Ambassador of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother, co-chaired Merck Foundation The Gambia Annual Summit 2012 held via videoconference to discuss their joint programs to transform patient care landscape in The Gambia via building healthcare capacity, raising awareness about breaking infertility stigma and support girl education; and to meet the Merck Foundation Alumni and Media Winner.  

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother emphasized, “I am very happy to share that in partnership with our partner and my dear sister, H.E. Mrs. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia and Ambassador of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother, we have provided 35 scholarships to young Gambian doctors in various medical specialties like Fertility & Embryology, Oncology, Diabetes, Sexual & Reproductive Medicine, Respiratory, Acute Medicines, and Neonatal Medicine. I feel extremely proud that together we are making history by providing specialty training for the first Fertility specialist, Embryologists, oncologists, diabetes, respiratory, acute care and neonatal medicine specialists in the country. This is a huge achievement; It is history in the making.”

H.E. Mrs. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia and Ambassador of Merck Foundation More than a Mother expressed, “I am proud of my partnership with Merck Foundation as an Ambassador of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother and to work closely with them to empower infertile women through access to information, education, health and change of mindset. Moreover, to empower our girls in education through Merck Foundation program “Educating Linda”.”

“Together we have been able to provide around 35 medical scholarships to our young doctors. We consider it to be a very high number for our country and will definitely contribute significantly to The Gambia’s health security and its economic and social development. We started these programs in 2017 and in a very short time, we have made a significant impact”, she added.  

“Today, I am very happy to meet our alumni and discuss their impact on improving the quality of healthcare in the country after receiving specialized medical scholarships provided by Merck Foundation. Moreover, I am equally excited to meet the winner of the Merck Foundation Media Recognition Awards”, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized.

Merck Foundation in partnership with The First Lady of The Gambia has launched three children storybooks titled: “Musa’s Story” to emphasize on the strong family values of love and respect from a young age which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and resulted domestic violence in the future, “Educating Mariam Story” to emphasize on the importance of empowering girls through education and “Make the Right Choice Story” to raise awareness about coronavirus prevention amongst children and youth as it provides facts about the pandemic and how to stay safe and healthy during the outbreak. 30,000 copies of the three storybooks have been distributed to young readers, school students of The Gambia.

Merck Foundation will soon initiate their important program “Educating Linda” together with The Gambia First Lady to sponsor the education of 20 best performing girls in their secondary schools till they graduate.

“I truly believe that Education is Power and educating girls is empowering them to make their own decisions, stand up for their rights, and help them to access economic opportunities”, added Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation in partnership with The Gambia First Lady has also launched an empowering song to break the stigma around infertility in Africa and the rest of the world as part of ‘More than a Mother’ community awareness campaign. The song urges men to support their wives during the treatment journey of building a family and delivers an important message ‘Fertility is a Shared Responsibility’. It has been written and composed by Sunita, a young female artist from The Gambia.

Link to the song: https://bit.ly/38uk9b9

Moreover, together with The Gambia First Lady, Merck Foundation has introduced 6 important Awards for Media, Fashion, Film, and Music fraternity.

Speaking about the Awards, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej explained, “We have announced the 2021 edition of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother Awards for our Media, Fashion, Film making, and Music fraternity to raise awareness on the important topics of breaking the stigma around infertility, underscoring the importance of girls’ education and women empowerment at all levels. Together, we have also announced “Mask Up With Care” Media Recognition Awards and “Make Your Own Mask” Fashion Awards, Coronavirus theme-based awards for Media and Fashion fraternity, as this will help in raising awareness about continuing the best practices and also show support to our frontline workers in the country and the rest of Africa”

The Awards for 2021 launched are:

1. Merck Foundation Africa Media Recognition Awards “More Than a Mother”: Media representatives are invited to showcase their work to raise awareness about Infertility Prevention, Breaking Infertility stigma, and Empowering Girls and Women through Education.

Submission deadline: 30th October 2021. Click here (https://bit.ly/3zzZ8rj) to view more details.

 2. Merck Foundation Film Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021: All African Filmmakers and Students are invited to create and share a FILM or a DOCUDRAMA to deliver strong and influential messages to break Infertility stigma, and /or Empowering Girls and Women through Education and at all levels.

Submission deadline: 30th October 2021. Click here (https://bit.ly/3Bni7pM) to view more details.

3. Merck Foundation Fashion Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021: All African Fashion Students and Designers are invited to create and share designs to deliver strong and influential messages to raise awareness about Infertility Prevention, Breaking Infertility stigma, and/or Empowering Girls and Women through Education.

Submission deadline: 30th October 2021. Click here (https://bit.ly/3t37ANB) to view more details.

4. Merck Foundation Song Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021: All African Singers and Musical Artists are invited to create and share a SONG with the aim to Empower Girls and Women through Education and at all levels.

Submission deadline: 30th October 2021. Click here (https://bit.ly/2V3nmeC) to view more details.

5. Merck Foundation “Mask Up With Care” Media Recognition Awards 2021: Media representatives are invited to showcase their work to raise awareness on how to adapt best protection measures such as wearing your masks to show you care and love your family & community; to encourage your community to choose to vaccinate when it is available and to sensitize them to support healthcare workers who are at the forefront of COVID 19 pandemic.

Submission deadline: 30thOctober 2021. Click here (https://bit.ly/2V5A38N) to view more details.

6. Merck Foundation “Make Your Own Mask” Fashion Awards 2021: All African Fashion Designers and Students are invited to create and share designs of masks and other clothing items that carry messages to encourage people to wear masks to show they care and at the same time make it creative and fun!

Submission deadline: 30th October 2021. Click here (https://bit.ly/3jB2uVq) to view more details.

Entries for all the awards to be submitted via email to [email protected]

Read the Musa’s Stry here: https://bit.ly/3zAUZnf

Read the Educating Mariam book here: https://bit.ly/3jyQLH1

Read the Make the Right Choice Story here: https://bit.ly/2WGC7EG

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