Niyi Aderibigbe

Merck Foundation to tackle infertility in highly populated Africa

Africa’s share of global population is projected to grow from 16 percent in 2015 to 25 percent in 2050 and 39 percent by 2100. According to the United Nations, the strong growth of the African population will happen regardless of the rate of decrease of fertility, because of the exceptional proportion of young people already living today. The population growth rate may even increase if Merck Foundation succeeds in reducing infertility in Africa.

The philanthropic organization which aims to improve the health and well-being of people and advance their lives through science and technology has committed to a long-term partnership with the Government of Tanzania, with focus on building healthcare capacity and improving access to innovative and equitable healthcare solutions across the country as part of Merck’s CSR programs across Africa.

Merck Foundation will focus on providing one year and two years surgical and paediatric oncology fellowship program in India, Europe and University of Nairobi for Tanzanian doctors to improve the cancer care in the country. They will also focus on empowering infertile women through access to information, awareness, health, change of mind set and economic empowerment across the country through their ‘Merck more than a Mother’ campaign.

“The prevalence of infertility is so high in Africa, one every four couple in reproductive age suffers from infertility and yet around 85% of those cases are due to untreated infectious disease which can prevented, hence raising awareness about prevention through local media and social media is very critical,” said Rasha Kelej CEO of Merck Foundation, during a high level meeting with the Tanzanian Vice President, Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan.

“Raising awareness about male infertility as the infertility affects women and men equally and yet women are the one who been solely blamed, discriminated and mistreated in their communities. The campaign will address this topic and encourage men to discuss openly their infertility and share the journey of infertility diagnosis and treatment with their wives,” Kelej added.

Vice President Hassan commended the role Merck Foundation plays in healthcare capacity building in Africa.

“Tanzania welcomes Merck Foundation to the country, we are happy to partner with such reputable and serious organization. I will personally work with you to empower these underprivileged women socially and economically across Tanzania and the rest of the world to create a culture shift needed to respect and appreciate women as productive members in society weather they are mother or not.”