Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, has been working at all levels to bring a cultural shift in African society, and has been advocating for the women who are not able to bear children against the discrimination, isolation and violence.
As part of the ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ community awareness campaign, Tom Close, real name Thomas Buyombo, was one of the singers picked across the continent to compose and record a song communicating issues around infertility and stigma surrounding it.
His song “Life is Bigger” was launched on October 1.
Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck More Than a Mother, explained, “Art has the capacity and influence to make the problem felt, which further stimulates emotions and leads to engagement and action. Hence, we used this medium to address the issue of infertility with a special focus on male infertility to encourage men to speak up about their infertility and join the treatment journey with their wives. I personally believe that this song will add significant value to influence the culture change we are advocating.”
Buyombo told The New Times that the main purpose of the song was to inform people that men too can be infertile, and that women, even without children, are still valued.
“In our communities, people think it’s a woman’s problem if a couple can’t have children. Most men don’t even try seeking medical help and if at all there is any one going to the hospital it’s mostly the women,” the artiste said.
It was an opportunity first of all to tell people that happiness in life is not only brought by the fact that you have children, people can be happy even without children. Infertility can be prevented by seeking medical help, and with modern knowledge and technology, childless couples have a chance of having children of their own,” he said.
Kelej added that the song communicates an important message to society that not only women but men too can be the cause of infertility.
It also speaks about the stigma attached to infertility, articulates that life is bigger than having children and delivers Merck Foundation’s key message that a woman is more than a mother and men are more than just fathers.
About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign
“Merck More Than a Mother” launched in 2015 is a programme of the Merck Foundation. The foundation drives many of their initiatives and programmes in the area of building health care and research capacity and improves access to equitable healthcare solutions.
In many cultures, childless women suffer discrimination, stigma, and ostracism. Their inability to have children results in great isolation, disinheritance, and assaults. “Merck More Than a Mother” empowers such women through the access to information, health, change of mindsets and economic empowerment.