The Senate and the Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, have pledged to partner Merck Pharmaceuticals, a German company, on reproductive health issues in the country.
Mrs. Buhari, who is also the initiator of ‘Future Assured’ and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, made this known during the “Merck More Than A Mother” campaign launch in Abuja.
“Merck More than a Mother” campaign, which was initiated by Dr. Rasha Kelej, the Chief Social Officer of Merck, aims to empower infertile women by improving access to information, education, healthcare, change of culture, mindset and to de-stigmatise infertility.
For her part, Mrs Buhari, represented by the Vice President’s wife, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, pledged her support in the implementation of “Merck More than a Mother” campaign activities in Nigeria with emphasis on creating awareness and providing information and education on causes of infertility; facilitating access to healthcare; and economic and social empowerment of infertile women.
She stated that she will help strengthen advocacy for women with infertility challenges through her Future Assured initiative project.
Also speaking, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Tejuoso, said the Senate would initiate a legislation on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) in the country.
Earlier, Wife of the Senate President, Barr. Toyin Saraki, in her remarks, called for a partnership between government and the private sector to make infertility treatment affordable.
On behalf of fellow Senators’ wives, Saraki’s wife committed that they would carry the message of the “Merck More than a Mother” campaign to every senatorial district in the country.
Meanwhile, a panel discussion by fertility experts and policy makers during the launch called for an end to the stigmatization of infertile women; creation of awareness and education on the causes of infertility and management since over 85% of the cases are caused by infections which can be treated and prevented.
The panelists added that it also involved building advocacy for the development of ART laws to improve the governance and quality of fertility care; improving access to fertility care by integrating it into public reproductive health services and building the capacity to provide quality and safe fertility care through training.
They also expressed support for the empowerment of infertile women who form a vulnerable part of the population and noted that infertile women in Nigeria and many other African countries who can no longer be treated have been empowered socially and economically to lead independent and happier lives through “Empowering Berna” initiative. “Empowering Berna” is part of “Merck More than a Mother” campaign.
The panel included Senator Dr. Lanre Tejuoso; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; Minister of Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan; and Uganda’s Minister of State for Health, Hon. Sarah Opendi.
Others were a member of the Kenyan Parliament, Hon. Joyce Lay; National Coordinator, Future Assured, Dr. Mohammed Kamal; President of Africa Fertility Society, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru; and Chief Social Officer of Merck Pharmaceuticals, Rasha Kelej.