Over 32,000 people from more than 70 countries participate in 8th Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary

Over 32,000 people from more than 70 countries participate in 8th Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary

The 8th edition of the Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary to mark the 4th anniversary of Merck Foundation has been held.

The programme which is being held via a virtual conference  from April 27 to 29 is co-hosted by the First Lady of Zambia, Esther Lungu and Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Merck Foundation, to create the platform for dialogue measures for  access to improved health care systems and enhanced capacity of medical practitioners. 

The programme conducted online as a Videoconference, had more than 32,000 participants from more than 70 countries

made up of health ministers,  medical practitioners,  researchers,  and the media among others discussing strategies and solutions for health challenges in their countries with that aim to contribute to improving access to quality  participants.

Speaking at the inaugural session on Tuesday April 27, The Chief Executive Officer of Merck  Foundation,  Dr.Rasha Kelej, said as the CEO of Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck, “I am very proud to 

work together with all of you to realize our vision of a world where ‘Everyone Can Lead a Healthy and Fulfilling Life.”

“It gives us a great honor to have The President of Zambia, H.E. MR. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU with us today to officially inaugurate the 8th Edition of Merck Africa Asia Luminary, that I Co-chair with The First Lady of Zambia, H. E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU”, she noted.

Dr.Kelej  acknowledged the Chairman of Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp for his 

valuable guidance and support for Merck Foundation strategy and programs which has enabled them to create a significant impact in the under-served communities across the world and specially during coronavirus pandemic. 

She said the programme was aimed at equitable healthcare solutions and building healthcare capacity in many critical and underserved medical fields such as; Diabetes, cardiovascular, endocrinology, Cancer, Research, Fertility Care, Women Health, Sexual & Reproductive care, Respiratory Medicines, and Acute Medicines. 

She added that More than 1100 doctor from 42 countries have benefited from Merck Foundation scholarship in the above fields, and more will join in the next few years to benefit from more scholarships in more specialties such as: Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Mental Health, Orthopedic Trauma, Paediatric, Emergency 

Medicine, Dermatology, Neonatal Medicine, Pain Management, Psychiatry, Clinical 

Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Ophthalmology, Urology, Trauma and orthopedics.

According to Dr.Kelej, Merck Foundation started this smart capacity building strategy in partnership with African First Ladies and Ministries of Health and Medical Societies since 2012, which 

contributed significantly towards transforming and reshaping the landscape of the public healthcare sector and towards advancing patient care in 42 countries. 

President of The Republic of Zambia, Dr.Edgar Chagwa Lungu urged First Ladies of various countries to continue  in their quest to prioritise the human lives in their respective countries through such strategic collaborations.

He said as the population of the continent grows to nearly 1.4 billion people,  the leaders must build efficient healthcare systems and train more specialists to keep the population healthy and productive.

On this score he called for stronger  political commitment and strategic partnership to be the way forward.

He expressed his appreciation to Merck Foundation for partnering other African countries to reshape and improve the healthcare systems.

The First Lady of Zambia,  Esther Lungu, in her opening address said, ” let me recognize my Co-Chair, Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej and take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment as Senator of the Egyptian Senate from 2020 to 2025 by the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, His Excellency Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.”

She noted that Merck Foundation has been a long-term partner in building capacity for health workers, in improving access to healthcare, information and breaking the 

silence,stigma and discrimination associated with infertility. 

“We are indebted to Merck Foundation for selecting Zambia to host this important knowledge-platform where we will discuss cross cutting issues to address various health and social challenges besidesfindingsolutions to improve the health and wellbeing of our nations,” the First Lady of Zambia added.

On her part, the first lady of Ghana, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo said, the Merck Foundation had partnered Ghana on numerous area in resolving some challenges in the health sector. 

This, she said included training of medical practitioners,  launching of campaigns to create awareness and building robust health system among others.

She urged other African countries to take a lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic  to build a efficient health systems to fight future pandemics. 

Together with other First Ladies from Africa among others, they discuss strategy realization to build healthcare capacity, respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, provide the necessary training to establish a strong platform of experts in many important and critical specialties in their countries in collaboration with their Offices and Ministries of Health.

By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme

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