Written by Chimwemwe Njoloma
Malawi First Lady, Madame Monica Chakwera, has emphasized the need to amplify access to information, education and health in sensitising communities particularly in rural areas to better understand infertility and break the stigma around infertile women.
Chakwera made the remarks during a virtual conference summit of Merck Foundation First Ladies (MFFLI) on Tuesday where she has been appointed as Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother in Malawi.
Attended by 13 African First Ladies, the MFFLI conference was meant to discuss joint efforts to build healthcare capacity and strengthen the response to COVID-19 in countries and Africa at large.
Addressing the First Ladies present, Chakwera said she was happy to be appointed Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother, an initiative that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology.
Chakwera committed to fully support the campaign as First Lady to help end stigma infertile women across nations are facing.
“As a woman, this cause is very close to my heart. I will work in collaboration with our ministries to sensitize our communities, particularly in rural areas to better understand infertility hence to break the stigma around infertile women,” said Chakwera.
She added that sensitisation can only be achieved if communities are empowered through access to information, education, health, and change of mindset.
“I am looking forward to building healthcare capacity in the country through the programs of Merck Foundation as it will contribute to the social and economic development of Malawi,”she said.
The Merck Foundation in partnership with Madame Chakwera and ministry of health intends to provide specialty training to Malawian doctors in various fields such as oncology, diabetes, fertility, embryology, respiratory care, acute medicines, sexual and reproductive medicines to transform public healthcare sector in Malawi.
On her part, CEO of Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kelej said the organization was happy to partner with Madame Chakwera and underscored the long term commitment to build healthcare capacity, empower girls in education and break the stigma of infertility in Malawi.
She said the organization was very proud to appoint her as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother as this will enable them to work very closely with her and the Government of Malawi.
“The appointment will enable us work closely with her and the government of Malawi and together we will make history by providing training for the first specialists in many fields such as fertility, sexual and Reproductive Medicines among others,”said Kelej.
Kelej also revealed that Merck Foundation together with the First Lady, will continue their important program, Educating Linda 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 access economic opportunities,”she said.
Kelej, nominated as one of 100 most influential Africans for 2019/2020, said the foundation will enroll the selected Malawian doctors by the First Lady office and ministry of health to their various training programs for the next 10 years.
Recently, Merck Foundation celebrated three journalists from Malawi for their “Stay at Home” media recognition awards from Southern African countries which aimed at raising awareness about COVID 19. The journalists included Mercy Malikwa of Nation publications and Aston Gondwe of MBC.
Other attendees included First Ladies of Zimbabwe, Auxillia Mnangagwa, Esther Lungu of Zambia and Fatima Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, among others.