Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany organized their first “Merck Foundation Health Media Training” via Videoconference on 15th December 2021 in partnership with H.E. Mrs. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia and Ambassador of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother for The Gambian media. “The objective of the training was to teach the media representatives on how to play a significant role in addressing sensitive social and health issues such as breaking Infertility Stigma, ending Child Marriage, FGM, GBV and support Girl Education. Moreover, in the given unprecedented times, enabling them to raise awareness about coronavirus and the best health prevention practices during this global pandemic” explained Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation More than a Mother. “I have always emphasized on the prominent role of media as I strongly believe that media has the capacity and ability to create a culture shift and to break the silence and be the voice of the voiceless through their day-to-day work”, Dr. Rasha Kelej added.
The Merck Foundation Health Media Training is a part of ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ community awareness Program and was chaired by Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej and addressed by the stalwarts of the media industry and infertility experts. It was attended by Gambian journalists working for Print, TV, Radio, and Online media and journalism students. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej stated, “I recently met my dear sister and our long-term partner, H.E. Mrs. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia and Ambassador of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother, to discuss our programs. I am proud that till end of 2021, we have provided 34 scholarships to young Gambian doctors in various medical specialties like Fertility & Embryology, Oncology, Diabetes, Cardiovascular, Sexual & Reproductive Medicine, Respiratory, Acute Medicines, Neonatal Medicine and more. Together we are making history by providing specialty training for the first Fertility specialist, Embryologists, oncologists, diabetes, respiratory care, intensive care, and neonatal medicine specialists in the country. This is a huge achievement and history in the making”.
Moreover, through ‘Educating Linda’ program, Merck Foundation work towards empowering girls in education by supporting education of 20 underprivileged but brilliant schoolgirls. Merck Foundation provides 3,000 sets of essential school items for girls’ schools. Each of the recipients get a set containing 1 Ruler, 3 Pencils, 2 Erasers, 1 Sharpener, 1 Pen, 6 Color Pencils, 1 Triangular Ruler, 1 Protractor, and 1 Fabric Bag.
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 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.
Moreover, together with The Gambia First Lady, Merck Foundation had launched 6 important Awards for Media, Fashion, Film, and Music fraternity to raise awareness on the important topics of breaking the stigma around infertility, underscoring the importance of girls’ education & women empowerment at all levels. Two Coronavirus theme-based awards were also announced for Media and Fashion fraternity, with the aim to raise awareness about continuing the best practices and also show support to our frontline workers in the country and the rest of Africa. The winners of the awards will be announced soon. Earlier, Alieu Ceesay from QTV was announced as the First Position winner from the online category of the “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards 2020 from the West Africa region.
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