Merck Foundation has affirmed their commitment to the long term partnership with the Government of Uganda to build healthcare capacity with special focus on diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, infertility and cancer.

The partnership between Merck Foundation and the Government of Uganda began in 2012 and has to date made strides in building regional centres of excellence for fertility and cancer.

During a recent visit to Uganda, Merck Foundation together with Ministry of Health of Uganda held a series of meetings and visits to various health institutions and rural communities.

They visited rural villages in Western Uganda where the ‘Merck More than a Mother’ campaign has established various income generating projects to support infertile women. The Merck Foundation handed over an oxen plough, poultry farms and table banking projects to ‘Merck more than a Mother’ women groups to empower them socially and economically.

Merck Foundation, through their ‘Merck More than a Mother’ campaign focuses on empowering infertile women through access to information, awareness, health, change of mind set and economic support in addition to building fertility care capacity across the African continent.

“One of my most fulfilling moments is seeing these childless women lead happy and independent lives. It was very critical to partner with the Ministry of Health to enable us to reach out and raise awareness about infertility prevention and management, and to break the stigma around infertile women,” said CEO of Merck Foundation, Dr Rasha Kelej.

“Raising awareness about male infertility is very important to change the culture as infertility affects women and men equally and yet women are the ones who are solely blamed, discriminated against and mistreated in their communities. Our campaign addresses this topic and encourages men to discuss openly their infertility and share the journey of infertility diagnosis and treatment with their wives,” continued Dr Kelej.

During their visit to the new Women Maternal Hospital in Kampala, Merck Foundation through the ‘Merck More than a Mother’ campaign committed to support the training of embryologists and fertility specialists and the establishment of the first public IVF centre in the new hospital, which will be the first in sub-Saharan Africa as well. The public IVF centre aims to improve access to regulated and cost-effective fertility care across Uganda and the rest of Africa.

During their visit to the Uganda Cancer Centre, Uganda Minister for Health, Sarah Opendi, noted: “Cancer prevalence in Uganda is the highest in East Africa, with about 300 cases reported in every 1,000 people.”

Minister Opendi went on to thank Merck Foundation for their continued support in healthcare in the country in terms of technological assistance and capacity building of oncologists.

“Through the Merck Cancer Access Programme, Merck Foundation will continue doing what they do best, building cancer care capacity through providing one, two and three year oncology fellowship programmes to doctors and technicians in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Uganda with the aim of increasing the limited number of oncologists in the country and across Africa,” concluded Dr Kelej.

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