BUJUMBURA March 20th (ABP) – The Merck Foundation (from Germany), in partnership with Burundi’s Buntu Foundation, officially launched at the Odeon Palace on Tuesday March 19, 2019, the “Merck more than a mother to restore hope” under the theme “Infertility is a shared responsibility”. The ceremonies were enhanced by the ladies of high dignitaries of the country, representatives of the government, parliament, representatives of religious denominations and leaders of political parties.
The ceremonies began with the contest of songs relating to the theme of the day. 10 groups from different churches were competing to raise awareness about the social problems that haunt the country. After the competition, the first three groups were awarded. The first received an envelope of one million Burundian francs with a lot of loincloths, the 2nd was entitled to an envelope of 800,000 BIF and a lot of loincloths, while the 3rd group received an envelope of 600,000 BIF with a lot of loincloths. The remaining seven groups each received an envelope of 300,000 BIF with a set of loincloths.
In her address, the first lady of Burundi and Chairperson of the Buntu Foundation, Ms. Denise Nkurunziza, first recalled that the issue of infertility has long been a taboo subject in Burundi, and that the responsibilities were solely women’s. Households were dislocated due to infertility whose causes were often unknown, she said, deploring that the woman was still feeling guilty and driven out of home. She felt it was sad to see that only women are blamed for infertility while the latter also affects men.
The first lady then explained that the “Merck more than a mother” campaign comes at the right time as it aims to strengthen the empowerment and valorization of infertile couples, and the woman in particular.
The chairperson of the Buntu Foundation said that men and women should be encouraged to speak out, talk openly about their infertility problems, and realize that women are more than mothers. An infertile man and woman are not to be stigmatized, but to be supported, she said.
Ms. Nkurunziza took the opportunity to thank the Merck Foundation for the initiative to launch that campaign in Burundi. She promised that the Buntu Foundation will work closely with the Merck Foundation to achieve empowerment and valorization of infertile women through access to information, education and health care.
The chairperson of the Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kaly, in turn, commended the hospitality of the Burundians and especially the first lady of the country. She said that the Merck Foundation is working in the field of socio-economic development in the case of Burundi and invited the Burundians to behave well if there comes a case of infertility for couples. Ms. Rasha called on Burundian media to help with the work of raising awareness and changing mentality.
The Minister of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Dr. Thaddée Ndikumana, commended that initiative which he considered innovative, arguing that the latter will certainly contribute to improving the health care capacity of hospitals in Burundi and to facilitate people’s access to existing health solutions, especially with regard to the issue of managing infertility, which is primarily an issue of equity and human rights.
At the end of the ceremonies, the head of delegation of the Merck Foundation gave a certificate of merit to the first lady of Burundi for her advocacy for women.