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 Merck Foundation holds 10th   Africa Asia Luminary in Mumbai
Dr Rasha Kelej

Merck Foundation holds 10th Africa Asia Luminary in Mumbai

The 10th edition of the Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary has opened in Mumbai, India with African First Ladies of 11 countries who are Ambassadors of the Merck Foundation's "More Than a Mother" initiative in attendance.


Like previous years, this year’s event being held in a hybrid format— online and in-person, is expected to attract more than 6000 participants from over 70 countries across the world.

The Luminary was inaugurated by Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary, along with African First Ladies of 11 countries.

Speakers discussed critical social and health issues including supporting girl education, ending child marriage, stopping gender based violence, breaking infertility stigma, ending female genital mutilation, women empowerment, and diabetes awareness. There were capacity building trainings for media and healthcare personnel.

At the opening ceremony, Dr Kelej pledged the Foundation’s support towards achieving the goals of the various social intervention the African First Ladies work on.

African First Ladies with Dr Rasha Kelej and Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp at the opening session

The Foundation, she added will continue its contribution in building the healthcare capacity and patient care transformation in Africa and Asia.

Dr Kelej added that they had also adopted music, animation, fashion and other forms of art as ways of affecting social change.

This, she said was to also attract more young creatives to add their voices to critical issues in their societies. 

She commended the First Ladies in Africa for their support to the Foundation’s initiatives, particularly towards improving healthcare delivery in the areas of fertility, saying “Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, Academia, Medical societies, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa, Asia and beyond.”

In her speech, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo , First Lady of Ghana appealed to Merck Foundation to help train Interventional Radiologists in Ghana.

While commending the Foundation for its invaluable contributions towards training and building the capacities of health personnel in Ghana, she appealed for to Merck Foundation to help train Interventional Radiologists in Ghana.

Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo speaking at one of the sessions

"In Ghana, I have become one of the strongest advocates for the health of women and children and the Rebecca Foundation is now recognised as a strategic partner for our Ministry of Health. In all humility, this has been possible because of strategic partners like the Merck Foundation. This partnership has helped us develop a more extensive health innovation initiative. 

“Today, we are no longer restricted to building renovating and resourcing health facilities. Merck Foundation has allowed us to access new resources, knowledge and networks that enhance our work....How else could we have trained more than a hundred and thirty public health care providers in 39 diverse disciplines?”

Some of the African First Ladies with Dr Rasha Kelej

The 10th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” was in partnership with Tata Memorial Centre and Department of Atomic Energy, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Health of India, State Protocol Office of Government of Maharashtra and Krishna World University, Karad.

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