Professor Mutharika poses with 15 of the 17 scholarship beneficiaries and other officials from the Ministry of Health

BLANTYRE, 18 March 2020 | Eight months after the Merck Foundation established its work in Malawi together with Beautify Malawi (BEAM) Trust through the “More Than A Mother” Project, there are now more visible fruits to the partnership as a first cohort of about 17 Malawian doctors and nurses are set to fly to India and be trained in Oncology, Palliative care, Fertility and Embryology courtesy of the Merck Foundation.

The First Lady poses with the Malawian doctors and nurses after presenting the Merck Foundation medical scholarships

This was announced by Malawi’s First Lady and BEAM Patron Professor Gertrude Mutharika on Wednesday March 18, 2020 during a luncheon event that she hosted at Sanjika Palace in order to present media awards to three Malawian journalists and present Merck Foundation-BEAM Scholarships to 17 Malawian doctors and nurses.

Three Media personnel in Malawi were also recognized by Merck Foundation for their understanding of the infertility issues in African communities and using best media practices to cover it with the aim to break its stigma and sensitize our communities through all media outlets. Charles Chindongo of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was awarded US$500 in the Radio category; Grace Nyenyezi Khombe of Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) was awarded US$200 in the radio category and Memory Kutengule of Malawi News Agency (MANA) scooped US$500 in the Online category. Merck Foundation launched the first Merck Foundation Health Media Training, to train journalists on the international standards and media ethics for reporting sensitive issues like infertility in Africa.

Professor Gertrude Mutharika poses with Media awardees and other professionals in the press.

In her address to the gathered media, medical and education professionals, Professor Gertrude Mutharika encouraged all stakeholders towards a continued campaign to eradicated stigma around fertility issues. She applauded the media to continue being the voice of the voiceless until infertility is no longer considered as a woman’s problem but a shared responsibility.

“We know that this is a tall order. The battle has to be fought from all angles. But I believe we have started on a good note and together we will make it; together we will succeed,” she said.

The First Lady also announced the support of 20 girl students as part of Merck Foundation – ‘Educating Linda’ which aims to empower girls through education in Malawi and rest of Africa. Merck Foundation is sponsoring their secondary education till completion in national secondary schools. Additionally, Professor Mutharika announced that Merck Foundation will sponsor 20 additional girl students under the program. She thanked Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of the Merck Foundation, for pouring her heart into these initiatives.

Professor Gertrude Mutharika was unveiled as the Ambassador of Merck “More Than A Mother” Initiative in Malawi on 16th July, 2019 at a memorable event at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.