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Merck Foundation to train more specialised care experts in Africa

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation.
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation.

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, says it will train more specialised healthcare practitioners in Africa to build resilient healthcare system on the continent.

The Chairman of Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, Professor. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, who disclosed this during the opening day of a three-day virtual Merck Africa Asia Luminary conference, which commenced on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, said more than 1,100 doctors from 42 countries in Africa , Asia and Latin America have so far benefited from the Foundation’s scholarship scheme.

He said the Foundation’s scholarship scheme was aimed at improving access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities in the world.

The Merck Africa Asia Luminary conference, which is in its 8th edition, brought together Ministers of Health, Gender, Information, Education and Science & Technology from 25 African countries.

Similarly, more than 5,000 healthcare providers, policymakers and media practitioners from over 70 countries took part in the virtual conference, which was co-chaired by the First Lady of Zambia, Esther Lungu, and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation.

The three-day virtual event provides the platform for partners to meet and discuss strategies and solutions for health challenges with the aim of contributing to an improved access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions in Africa, particularly in the area of breaking the stigma of infertility.

Prof. Stangenberg-Haverkamp said the COVID-19 pandemic has reechoed the need to train more specialised healthcare practitioners anywhere in the world.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been greater than many expected across the globe. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of focusing on building and advancing healthcare capacity specially training medical staff at all levels nationwide to be our first defence line during times like these,” he noted.

For him, governments have realised, more than ever, the urgent need to address healthcare deficiencies to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing healthcare needs of their populations.

Prof. Stangenberg-Haverkamp pointed out that the Foundation “also started our online medical speciality training in 2020 through providing one year Diploma and two year Master degree from South Wales University and Queen University” in diabetes, cardiovascular, endocrinology, Sexual and reproductive medicines, medical oncology, respiratory medicines and acute medicines.

He added that in 2020 alone, the Foundation had enrolled “more than 400 African doctors into these courses which will make a significant impact in improving the quality of care for patients who suffered coronavirus and who considered risk groups.”

“I am personally proud of our online programs, not only because it demonstrates Merck Foundation’s concrete response to Coronavirus but also because it will significantly transform the healthcare landscape and will create a revolution in access to quality and equitable healthcare in general,” he said.

Prof. Stangenberg-Haverkamp also commended African First Ladies for their roles in helping to build quality and equitable health systems on the continent.

The First Lady of Zambia, Mrs Esther Lungu, commended Merck Foundation for its partnership with African governments in building capacity for health workers and also improving access to healthcare, information and breaking the silence, stigma and discrimination associated with infertility.