11 African countries, three languages: Merck Foundation CEO acknowledges health workers with “My White Army”

11 African countries, three languages: Merck Foundation CEO acknowledges health workers with “My White Army”

As part of effort to encourage and show solidarity for health workers risking their lives to save lives amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Merck Foundation, Dr Rasha Kelej has shown the way.

He has produced a song by bringing together musicians from 11 African countries to use three languages, English, French and Arabic to compose a song.

The song written by a Ghanaian contemporary gospel music dynamo, Cwesi Oteng is to acknowledge the amazing work by, doctors, nurses and other hospital staff in Africa.

Other artistes on the song include, A Pass from Uganda, Kambua from Kenya, Mahmoud Al Leithy from Egypt, Nikki from Nigeria, Rozzy from Sierra Leone, Salatiel from Cameroon, Sean K from Namibia, Sunita from The Gambia, Tom Close from Rwanda and Wezi from Zambia.

Speaking of the new song, Dr Kelej emphasised, “I strongly believe, it is important for the people on the front line; doctors, nurses and health workers know how grateful we are. I don’t want this to be a one-off thank you, but one that becomes a regular act of gratitude across our communities. I have heard stories of horrible behaviour against our health workers, such as, landlords are forcefully evicting them due to paranoia that they might spread COVID -19. It is shocking, illegal and inhuman behaviour”. 

She further added that though she was not a professional music director or producer, as  the CEO of Merck Foundation she had produced and directed many documentaries with the aim to break the stigma around infertile women and to empower women and girls in education in Africa and Asia as part of their  programmes. 

“So, I believe I have the talent and experience needed. Most importantly, I have the vision of inclusive Africa, all regions of Africa; North, South, West and East in one work and one initiative that goes across the whole continent and the whole world,” Rasha Kelej added. 

Aside this, which is her personal contribution towards the COVID-19 fight, her organisation, Merck Foundation has partnered with 18 First Ladies in four main focus areas which include; supporting the livelihood of thousands of casual workers and women during the lockdown, launching the ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards, launching an inspiring children storybook ‘Make the Right Choice’ to sensitise children and youth about coronavirus and building healthcare capacity by  providing online one year diploma for African doctors in Respiratory Medicines and Acute Medicines.

By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme

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