Malawian First Lady Gertrude Mutharika, who has just been awarded by the Merck Foundation for her efforts in reducing stigma against infertility and capacity building in maternal health, has urged her fellow first ladies to help end the stigma associated with infertility on the African continent.
Speaking during the Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative committee meeting in Accra, Ghana, madam Mutharika urged the First Ladies to partner with different stakeholders to promote the dignity of women and families who don’t have children of their own.
She also said it was important demystifying the cultural and traditional stigma associated with women who are not able to get pregnant was important in finding a solution to the reproductive challenge.
Mutharika said as an ambassador for ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ initiative in Malawi, she will continue working with ministries and other stakeholders to ensure ending the humiliation many women are made to go through because of their infertility.
“As first ladies we must realize that every health problem in Africa is everybody’s responsibility therefore requires us as mothers and role models to work together to end the stigma,” she said.
Mutharika told the meeting that in partnership with Ministry of Education, her Beautify Malawi Trust has launched the Limbani’s Story Book, which is highlighting some challenges people who don’t have children go through and possible available solutions to some infertility problems to use it in educating children about the strong family values of love and respect.
So far, 18,000 books have been distributed to over 300 secondary schools in Malawi.
The Merck Foundation, an international organisation that tackles infertility, cancer and diabetes, observed that Mutharika has, within a short time, contributed to the well-being of mothers and children in Malawi through the partnership between her Trust, Beam and the Merck foundation.
The two organisations are implementing the ‘More than a Mother’ initiative in several districts nationwide together with the Ministry of Health.