Arts reinforces cultural values that correct stigma and discrimination in infertility

Maxwell Awumah, GNA

Hohoe, Oct 19, GNA – Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of
Merck Foundation and President of “Merck More Than A Mother,” campaign has said
the use of the arts including drama and songs has reinforced cultural values
and norms that corrects stereotyping, discrimination and especially
childlessness and infertility in Africa.

She said the advocacy from the deployment of
these tools were impacting positively and bearing significant fruits and
optimistic that the campaign would be replicated throughout Africa.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr
Kelej said Merck Foundation was exploiting measures to engage artistes in its
catchment areas to translate its infertility awareness song, launched recently,
“Life is Bigger” and composed by Tom Close, a Rwandan medical doctor and
songster, into major local dialects across Africa to create greater awareness
to stimulate change.

She said societies were accepting the wind of
change that men too could be responsible for infertility and believed the use
of the arts could revolutionize human thinking, saying “We can react to art
from intellectual or visceral perspective to shift paradigm culturally”.

“Art has the capacity and influence to make
the problem felt, which further stimulates emotions and lead to engagement and
action. Hence we use this medium to address the issue of infertility and join
the treatment journey with their wives. I personally believe that this song
will add significant value to influence the culture change we are advocating,”
Dr Kelej said.

She said about 186 million ever-married women
aged 15-49 in developing countries were infertile due to primary and secondary
infertility assuring that treatment was available, when spouses accepted equal
liability and responsibility.

Merck Foundation, a subsidiary of Merck
Germany, is deploying the arts to break barriers of cultural discrimination,
stigmatization and ostracism resulting from childlessness and infertility.

It intends to host its fifth edition “Merck
Africa Asia Luminary 2018” conference in Dakar, Senegal, on October 30 and 31,
with the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo and 14 other first ladies in Africa
and some 400 industry players, NGOs, academia and Ministers of Health

Merck Foundation is making history in many
African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized
fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the
first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia,
Niger, Chad, and Guinea. 

Merck Foundation plan supported the
establishment of the first public IVF centres in Ethiopia and Uganda through
providing the clinical and practical training necessary for their staff. Merck
Foundation also plans to support the establishment of the first public IVF in
Tanzania soon.


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