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Lesotho delegation lauds Merck

African First Ladies and participating ministers

Nov. 4, 2019 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU - Lesotho’s contemplated advent into medical technology and sensitization on a new approach towards the prevention, treatment and eventual uprooting of infertility as advocated by Merck Foundation will benefit disenfranchised women and facilitate their active role in the public space and discourse.

The deputy minister in the prime minister’s office, Tšehlo Ramarou, shared this sentiment at the close of a two-day high level 6th Merck Foundation Africa and Asia Luminary conference in Accra, Ghana last week.

The minister led a delegation representing the First Lady, Dr ‘Maesaiah Thabane, at the event which was attended by 58 countries from across the globe, with African First Ladies and health, gender and education ministers from 20 African countries; over 1 000 participants drawn from the academia, researchers, policy makers, health care practitioners, medical specialists and the media took part in the discussions.

Dr Thabane has recently been appointed Merck Foundation’s ‘More than a Mother’ programme ambassador in the country, and was invited to the conference in that capacity.   

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Merck Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Merck, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and to advance their lives through science and technology.

Welcoming Merck Foundation’s declared intent to reach out to infertile Basotho women with assisted reproduction through technology to mitigate childlessness and the stigma it carries minister Ramarou said the country’s First Lady had sworn to help create a platform which will enable the foundation to reach even the remotest communities of Lesotho to realize its mandate.

“We have been made to understand that Merck Foundation is a global entity and that its More than a Mother initiative is meant to assist our people, it is in that respect that our First Lady has embraced you…and she has promised to work hard to facilitate this alliance,” the minister said.

This is a noble effort, for we grew up within communities in which lots of infertile and childless couples existed; we have witnessed how terrible the stigma attached to this condition crippled people’s lives as scores even opted for polygamous marriages just to have a child, minister Ramarou continued.

He recalled how many women continue to live in loveless marriages while others end up divorced as they battle the stigma associated with failure to conceive. He said a lot of lives and marriage will be saved once the Merck initiative is set in motion.

“Our country, through the First Lady as appointed ambassador, commits before all of you present here that we shall progress in this partnership in leaps and bounds,” the minister said.

He said these new medical trends that will be introduced in the country through the foundation had potential to enhance women’s access to medical information, facilitate a wider-ranging discourse of infertility and foster a freer participation of erstwhile marginalized infertile women.

The Merck Mother than a Mother initiative aims to demystify infertility using the media, arts, fashion and theatre and kick started in the country recently with the training of media practitioners drawn from across the breadth of media houses in Lesotho.

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