10 August 2018

Kenya: Nation Journalists Feted at Merck Foundation Media Awards

NTV's Namukabo Werungah, Doreen Magak, Antony Wabwoba and former station head Pamela Asigi were among the big winners at the Merck Foundation Media Recognition Awards held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi on Monday.

The awards ceremony, co-sponsored by the Nation Media Group and the Merck Foundation, was held in recognition of the excellent journalism produced by media professionals who submitted stories on infertility.

The NTV story, A tale of shame and pain of childless women in Busia, won a cash prize of 5,000 US dollars (Sh500,000) in the TV category.

Ms Namukabo expressed her joy at the win, saying it was a story she felt compelled to tell.

"I felt it was a story I must tell as no woman's worth should be judged on account of her ability to have children," said Ms Werunga.

Other winners included Standard's Gardy Chacha who won in the print media category for his story, Cecilia Wairimu: One woman, three marriages and 11 years of infertility.


Impact Media founder and linguistics and media student Lilian Kaifuri won US$1,000 (Sh100,000) in the student category for her story, The Wrath of Barrenness in Kamba Culture.

Speakers identified stigma as the biggest obstacle to the successful treatment and acceptance of infertility in couples.

Nation Media Group Editor-in-Chief Tom Mshindi, Merck Foundation CEO Rasha Kelej, The Star CEO William Pike, publisher Carole Mandi, Parents Editor Lily Ronoh-Waweru among the senior media personalities were in attendance.

The event also incorporated a panel discussion comprising Mr Mshindi, Uganda's Health minister Sarah Opendi and Merck's Dr Kelej.


Mr Mshindi said he decided to record an online video appealing to media colleagues to tell the infertility stories.

"I did an online video and asked colleagues to come out and tell stories about infertility. It can be a highly personal issue. When reporting on it, be true to the facts but respect the privacy of affected couples" said Mr Mshindi.

"These (affected) couples would want to support us by lending their voices to our stories. Respect the privacy of sources, be honest and sensitive to what the couples are saying. The good news is that infertility is losing much of its stigma as the issue gets more coverage and understanding in this region," the senior Nation editor said.

Capital FM's Renee Ngamau said media practitioners had the power to influence attitudes and perceptions towards the touchy issue.

"We need to look at our own perceptions and the shift we seek to achieve will come out of our voices." she said.


Mr Pike termed infertility "a problem that contributes to child theft in hospitals and even homes."

"Infertility is a devastating issue that has negative consequences including violence in marriages" he said.

Dr Kelej said men contribute to about 50 percent of infertility cases.

"Men too can get stigmatised because of it. We need men to be involved in efforts to fight the stigma," said Dr Kelej.

Ms Opendi said her country had set aside budget to help women solve fertility problems.

"Uganda will devote two floors in the upcoming women's hospital to in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). With the assistance from Merck, we have trained an embryologist who will be stationed at the facility. The services offered by the six private fertility clinics in Uganda are expensive hence the need for the facility which will make the services affordable and accessible to many," said Ms Opendi.


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