Being able to bear children and give life is the dream of many women in Central African Republic where infertility is often blamed on women even when the complications may arise from men. But being a woman is much more than just being a mother. That’s what a new initiative by Merck Foundation is trying to emphasize.

Merck more than a Mother campaign  encourages infertile women to seek treatments but also to realize that while having children is a blessing and sometimes a choice, not having them should never be seen as not being successful in life.

Empowering Berna” is a special project of Merck more than a Mother campaign initiated by Merck Foundation for underprivileged infertile women who are no longer seeking treatment to establish small businesses and train them to be able to generate steady monthly income.

It is a partnership between Merck Foundation, the First Lady of the Central African Republic, Mrs Brigitte Touadera, and the country’s ministry of health.

According to Mrs. Touadera, “it is great initiative by Merck Foundation to empower our women by improving their access to information, knowledge and through capacity building to start their own business. Thus, they will be independent and lead a respectable life. This way they can comprehend their rights, roles and responsibilities and be more than mothers.”

To Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President Merck More than A Mother, “it is very important to empower infertile women by providing treatment so they can bear children as part of their human rights, but for those who cannot be treated anymore, our initiative ‘Empowering Berna’ will help to train them to establish their own small business so that they can be independent and re-build their own lives”.

“We truly believe that a woman is a lot more than just a mother,” Kelej said. 

She said men should also be encouraged to speak up about their infertility and support their wives.

“We will also help young couple to find proper access to fertility care by providing training to fertility specialists as we did for oncologists and diabetes specialists. Our vision is to establish a strong platform of health specialists in the country and the rest of Africa,” she added.

As part of the project, Merck Foundation CEO and the First Lady of Central African Republic last week met with 100 infertile women who had been enrolled in the “Empowering Berna” to establish small businesses for them. 

The First Lady also received Merck more than a Mother Ambassador award for her consistent efforts to empower infertile women in Central African Republic. 

While Merck Foundation promised to build healthcare capacity in the country, many new programs were finalized and launched in partnership with the Ministry of Health of C.A.R.

In partnership with the First Lady and ministry of health, Merck foundation will also provide clinical training on fertility specialty to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care in the country.

Merck Foundation also approved a list of candidates to be enrolled in their one and two year oncology fellowship program as a contribution to improve cancer care in the country. Moreover, they will also provide on-line diabetes diplomas in French for Doctors from C.A.R as well as cardiovascular preventive medicines fellowship in Asia.

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