The Merck Foundation, the arm of Merck KGaA Germany, organised its first 'Merck Foundation Health Media Training'. The training took place on Thursday, 3 October in Maseru, Lesotho.

The training was in partnership with H.E. Dr. Maesaiah Thabane, the First Lady of the Kingdom of Lesotho and Ambassador of Merck 'More Than a Mother' — together with the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology. The training aimed to break the stigma around infertility in Lesotho and Africa.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of the Merck Foundation and President of Merck 'More Than a Mother', says, "Based on my meeting with the First Lady of Lesotho, H.E. Dr. Maesaiah Thabane,we are very happy to underscore our long-term commitment to build healthcare capacity in the country." 

"We are also very proud to appoint her as the Ambassador of the Merck 'More Than a Mother' campaign to raise awareness about infertility prevention, male infertility and define interventions to break infertility stigma. Moreover, we will be happy to provide training to doctors from Lesotho in the fields of Fertility, Diabetes and Cancer Care," adds Kelej.

"Merck Foundation will work closely with the office of the First Lady and her Foundation — Maesaiah Thabane Trust Fund — to introduce innovative ideas that will engage different sectors to create a culture shift, with the aim to break the stigma and make a great impact in a short time," says Kelej.

"We plan to conclude the execution of our programmes in our meeting with Her Excellency in Accra Ghana, during Merck Foundation's annual conference, Merck Africa Asia Luminary 2019," he adds. 

"However, to start with, we are conducting the first health media training in Lesotho to educate media on how to break the stigma through their valuable work," he says.

The training programme is a part of the 'Merck More than a Mother' community awareness programme and was organised for the first time in Lesotho for local media representatives and media students.

Thabane says, "We are happy to host this training programme together with Merck Foundation. Media has the power to bring about a culture shift in our society." The training was addressed by the First Lady of Lesotho and stalwarts of the media industry, including international faculty and infertility experts. 

Merck Foundation also called for applications for Merck More than a Mother Media Recognition Awards for Lesotho and the rest of Africa.

The awards, launched in 2017, aim to emphasise the role of media in enhancing public engagement, the understanding of infertility stigma and the need to change its social perception in African communities.

Applicants are invited to showcase their work to raise awareness about infertility prevention and breaking infertility stigma in Lesotho and the rest of Africa. Journalists from print, online, radio and multimedia platforms from Lesotho and the rest of Africa can apply.

Entries can be submitted until Tuesday, 31 December. Entries can be submitted via email to [email protected].

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