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Merck Foundation's first Online Summit with African First Ladies to strengthen healthcare capacity and joint response to COVID 19

Merck Foundation's first Online Summit with African First Ladies to strengthen healthcare capacity and joint response to COVID 19

Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany conducted their first Video Conference Summit of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) on 31st August 2020 to define and follow up on different joint programs that aims to advance public healthcare sector capacity and strengthen the response to COVID 19 in their countries.

The MFFLI VC Summit 2020 was hosted by Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother and One of 100 Most Influential African (2019 & 2020) and attended by 13 African First Ladies, who are Ambassadors of Merck More than a Mother; H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe; H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia; H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone; H.E. AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU, The First Lady of Niger; H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia; H.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique; H.E. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of Malawi; H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana; H. E. FATOUMATTA BAHBARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic; H.E. ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi; H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana; H.E. ANA DIAS LOURENÇO, The First Lady of Angola.

Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees emphasized, “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been greater than many expected across the globe. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of investing in improving access to equitable and quality healthcare which is Merck foundation’s strategy since 2012, even before the pandemic started.”

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explained, “I am very proud of our valuable partnership with the African First ladies as ‘Merck more than a Mother Ambassadors’. We have always believed in the importance of building healthcare capacity through providing training to healthcare providers in many medical specialties. This has been our strategy since we stared in 2012 in partnership with African First Ladies and Ministries of Health, much before the pandemic started. As a response to COVID 19 pandemic, we adopted online medical education strategy through providing more than 350  African doctors with one-year online diploma and two-year online master degree in many specialties such as: Respiratory Medicines and Acute medicines, Diabetes, Cardiology, Endocrinology, and Sexual and Reproductive Medicines. This is in addition to more than 500 African and Asian doctors who benefited from our original clinical training programs in Diabetes & Cardiovascular, Oncology, Fertility specialists, and embryology in India, Egypt, Kenya and Malaysia which will resume after the lockdown ends”.

The MFFLI VC Summit, special edition aims to share experiences, discuss challenges, and define solutions to further strengthen healthcare capacity to better respond to this global pandemic in Africa.

The African First Ladies shared the experiences of working closely with Merck Foundation in their respective countries with special focus on the programs to build healthcare capacity and the response to COVID -19.

H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother emphasized, “I am very happy to see Merck Foundation’s strong commitment to advance the public healthcare sector across Africa. This is very critical to Zimbabwe, in the light of current pressure on our healthcare sector. More than 117 local doctors are enrolled in these training programs which will transform our healthcare sector”.

H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, First Lady of Zambia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother emphasized, “We are proud of our partnership with Merck Foundation, which started in 2019. In a very short period, we have been able to reshape the healthcare landscape of Zambia by providing our doctors and nurses with specialty training in the fields of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Respiratory, Acute medicines, Sexual and Reproductive medicines, Fertility and Embryology. All of these fields are very critical and were lacking in our country. This will contribute to our battle against coronavirus and other diseases”.  

H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother expressed, “I am extremely elated with our partnership with Merck Foundation, as together, we are making history in Sierra Leone by providing training for the First Oncologists in the country to establish the first skilled cancer care team. Also, our doctors are being trained in the fields of diabetes and fertility care. We will scale up the program to more fields together with Merck Foundation very soon”.

H.E. AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU, The First Lady of Niger & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother emphasized, “I am happy to be part of this prestigious platform. Since the Merck Foundation launch in 2017, together we have made a significant impact on our healthcare sector, through establishing a strong platform of Health experts in very critical fields such as; Diabetes, Oncology and Fertility care in Niger”.

H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother said, “I am very happy to see that Merck Foundation is strongly committed to advancing the public healthcare sector across Africa. This is very critical to our countries in light of the current medical and public concerns. This is very important for Namibia as we have a very limited number of local specialists in the public sector, we are very happy to enroll  21 Namibian doctors in online diplomas in many fields, including 8 in  sexual and reproductive medicines which is very important for women health”.

H.E. Dr. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother explained, “Together with Merck Foundation, I am fully committed to will work closely to introduce innovative ideas that will engage different sectors to create a culture shift with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and make a great impact in a short time.”

H.E. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of Malawi & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother said, “I am looking forward to starting our important long term partnership with Merck Foundation. I am willing to capitalize on the valuable programs of Merck Foundation, by scaling them up nationwide to contribute to the social and economic development of Malawi”.

H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother elaborated, “We launched the innovative programs of Merck Foundation at the beginning of 2019, to build healthcare capacity and break the infertility stigma. To share with you that since then and in a very short time we have been able to provide and enroll many of our healthcare providers with specialty training in the fields of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Respiratory, Acute medicines, Sexual and Reproductive medicines, Fertility specialists and Embryology training”.

H.E. FATOUMATTA BAHBARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother said, “I am delighted to share the magnificent outcomes of my long term partnership with Merck Foundation. Together we have been able to empower infertile women through access to information, education, health, and change of mindset. Also, we have enrolled 25 Gambian doctors in One-year online diploma and one-year master degree in many medical specialties”.

H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother emphasized, “I am very proud to work closely with Merck Foundation to advance healthcare sector and empower infertile women in my country. We also initiated in my country, an important project “Empowering Berna“ where we established small businesses for infertile women and train them to run their businesses so they can have income and become independent. Their lives have been transformed since then”.

H.E. ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother expressed, “I am very happy to be appointed the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother last week. I am excited about the work that has been done in my country so far and looking forward to taking this partnership to new heights”.

H.E. NEO JANE MASISI The First Lady of Botswana & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother highlighted, “Merck Foundation’s strategy of building healthcare capacity is more relevant now than ever. More than 34 doctors were enrolled to different specialties, I will closely work with Merck Foundation and our Ministry of Health to ensure the success of this program to be able to improve our people’s health and wellbeing”.

H.E. ANA DIAS LOURENÇO, The First Lady of Angola expressed, “I am very proud and happy to be a part of MFFLI VC Summit and look forward to a long-term partnership with Merck Foundation. We will closely work together on all their initiatives to build healthcare capacity and empower girls in education”.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Merck Foundation.

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About Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Summit – MFFLI:
MFFLI is a Merck Foundation platform of African First Ladies and “Merck More Than a Mother” Ambassadors established with the aim to discuss challenges, define solutions, measure impact and share experience to ensure continuous improvement and exchange variable aspects of different cultures in order to localize and/or standardize specific messages that can raise awareness and create a culture shift across Africa with regards to the below objectives:

  • •  Breaking the Stigma around infertile couples in general and infertile women in particular.
  • •  Empowering Girls and Women in Education in general and in STEM in particular.
  • •  Improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions.

About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please visit www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com); Facebook (bit.ly/347DsTd), Twitter (bit.ly/2REHwaK), Instagram (bit.ly/2t3E0fX), YouTube (bit.ly/2E05GVg) and Flicker (bit.ly/2RJjWtH).


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