Friday, June 30, 2017

MERCK LAUNCHES “MERCK MORE THAN A MOTHER” MEDIA RECOGNITION AWARDS 2017

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, June 30, 2017 – Merck, a leading science and technology company, has launched media recognition awards dubbed the Merck More than a Mother Media Recognition Awards in order to award journalists and media students in East Africa who have done compelling, educative and informative stories that have shaped the conversation on infertility in Africa. The importance of journalism and the media today cannot be overlooked thus Merck thought it prudent to initiate a media competition to appreciate the good work being done by journalists and media students in the East African Region.

Speaking during the launch, Dr. Rasha Kelej the Chief Social Officer of Merck emphasized: “I created this campaign after I had seen women who suffered violence and discrimination due to their infertility. Infertile women in Africa suffer a lot due to their conditions, worst of all is that they are sometimes physically assaulted ostracized and even abandoned due to their infertility; this has to stop hence I believe the media can do a great job in ensuring that such stories are told so that these women can find the respect and the help they deserve, media is an essential player and critical partner to create any culture shift.”

The aim of the Awards is to raise awareness about the critical role the media can play in breaking the stigma around infertility. It also aims to change the culture of discrimination and abuse of infertile women while educating the public about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In addition, the campaign aims to encourage men to discuss their infertility condition openly, support their wives through the journey of testing and treatment.

Merck emphasized in a statement circulated to the press: “We are happy to introduce these awards.. We believe that improving access as well as awareness to regulated and equitable fertility care is important, but it is even more important to intervene to decrease stigmatization and social suffering arising from this condition”.

“The media awards is the right step in making sure that fertility related stories are given good coverage and reported accurately and positively so that those who are suffering in silence can come out and seek help through medication or counseling. I am proud to be associated with this initiative and I look forward to the competition”.

Tom Mshindi, one of the judges emphasized: “I appreciate the role Merck is playing in combating the issue of infertility especially in rural Africa. This is an initiative that I fully endorse now that the media has also been incorporated in the greater goal of ensuring that stigmatization associated with infertility and its related complications are seriously addressed at all levels in society”.

Renee Ngamau who is also a judge in the competition stated, “As a woman this is an Initiative that I fully connect with and I firmly believe in the idea behind Merck More than a Mother campaign. The media must now take a front row in telling the stories of these women thus ensuring that we ease their suffering”.

The stories targeted are those of infertile women sharing their suffering and abuse by their husbands, families or communities due to their condition. It is very critical to share these stories with the public to build advocacy of the need to change such behavior and break this taboo in general. It will also provide a platform for those who have sought treatment to advise others on the journey and support those undergoing infertility treatments.

MERCK urged the Tanzanian health stakeholders, media and students alike to participate fully in the competion in order to reduce the stigma of infertility, create awareness and define interventions to improve access to better fertility care in Africa. “Let you voice heard and let’s work together to create a culture shift.

“Journalists should not only see this as competition with reward prizes, but also as an opportunity to be agents of change in the whole issue of infertility. It is definitely a big problem, thus stories need to be told and retold about it so that people are conversant with the suffering of women, men and families who are affected with infertility.”

Award winners will be picked by a judging panel which consists of experts from diverse professional backgrounds including journalists, communications experts and media managers, will walk away with cash prizes as high $5,000. The categories are divided into two mainly Journalists & students and into subcategories of multimedia print radio & online.

The prize awards for journalists will include Multimedia story - USD 5000, print 1500, radio 1500 and Online USD 1500. For students; Multimedia will win USD 3000, print 1000, radio 1000 and Online USD 1000.

The Award is open to print, video broadcast, photo journalists and media students whose stories appear in newspapers, websites, blogs and television and that target the public.

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