Nairobi, Kenya, June 23, 2015 – Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading company for innovative, top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials, today announced the launch of the “More than a Mother” campaign as part of the Capacity Advancement Program of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The campaign will first be implemented in Kenya, in collaboration with the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, and progressively rolled out in further African countries.

In some cultures, childless women still suffer discrimination, stigma and ostracism. As such, a central difficulty associated with infertility is that it can transform from an acute, private distress into a harsh, public stigma with complex and devastating consequences. An inability to have a child or to become pregnant can result in being greatly isolated, disinherited or assaulted. This may result in divorce or physical and psychological violence.

“Providing access to infertility care is important, but it is even more important to intervene to decrease stigmatization and social suffering arising from this condition,” said BelÚn Garijo, Member of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and CEO Healthcare, during her meeting with the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association to kick off the campaign.

The Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, forms a key pillar of the Group’s Corporate Responsibility activities in the strategic area of activity health. The 5-year program aims at expanding the professional capacity in developing countries in the areas such as research and development, advocacy building, medical education or community awareness. By the end of 2018, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, plans to target more than 19,000 students in African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries, with special focus on non–communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and fertility management.

Prof. Koigi Kamau, University of Nairobi stressed: “Through the “More than a Mother” campaign, we will challenge the perception about infertile women, their roles and worth in society, both within and beyond the medical profession in order to achieve any systemic shift in the current culture of gender discrimination in the context of fertility care.”

The program will provide medical education and awareness for medical students and general practitioners and will also support governments to define policies to improve access to safe and effective fertility care, address the need for interventions to reduce stigmatization and social suffering of infertile women and raise awareness about male infertility and the necessity for a team approach to family building among couples.

Through this campaign Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a pioneer in reproductive health, will address together with local stakeholders, the key challenges that are associated with resource-constrained settings such as prevention of infertility, education and self-development, regulation of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF), geographic barriers, reproductive rights and over-population and limited resources arguments. A particular emphasis will be put on prevention programs, as infertility is caused by infections in over 85% of women in the Sub-Saharan region, compared to 33% worldwide.
Hon. Joyce Lay, Member of the Kenyan Parliament, emphasized: “In order to improve access to safe and effective fertility care, a discussion with the relevant authorities will be needed to discuss the strengthening of infertility services, education, auditing, regulation, community awareness and the need to integrate them in programs which already exist in the local health infrastructure.”

About the Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
The CAP is a 5-year program aiming to expand the professional capacity in developing countries in the areas of research and development, advocacy building, supply-chain integrity and efficiency, pharmacovigilance, medical education, and community awareness.
As part of the CAP, by end of 2015, more than 5,000 medical students in partnership with African universities such as University of Nairobi, Makerere University, Namibia University and University of Ghana, in addition to Asian universities such as Maharashtra university, India and University of Indonesia will benefit from European-accredited clinical chronic diseases management training, which is seeking to equip them with skills to better manage and prevent these diseases.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is planning to target more than 19,000 students by the end of 2018 expanding to more African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries with special focus on non–communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and fertility management. The program will also kick off initiatives on building research capacity and improving supply chain in order to improve patient safety in Africa.