By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
It’s now official.
The Merck Foundation (MF) has pledged its continuation on their commitment to provide oncology fellowship program across Africa, In partnership with African First Ladies.
The MF, which is a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany, earlier in February, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African First Ladies Organization with the aim to achieve the objectives of raising awareness, building professional capacity and improving healthcare access in the field of Cancer and fertility care in Africa.
Previously, the Merck Foundation had conducted many educational and fellowship programs in Africa since 2012.
These are in the field of non-communicable diseases through Merck Cancer Access Program, Merck capacity Advancement Program, Merck STEM Program and Merck more than a Mother campaign.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO Merck Foundation commented during the signing event that, “We are delighted to partner with the African First Ladies Organization, to build health capacity and improve healthcare access in the field of cancer and fertility care, Merck Foundation dedicate majority of their efforts to build healthcare capacity in Africa and developing countries and with this partnership, we will be able to achieve our vision of a world where everyone can lead a healthy and fulfilling life.”
The MOU aims to raise awareness optimally about the prevention, management and de-stigmatization of infertility and cancer in women.
It will also aim to build profession capacity and improve access to fertility and cancer care in cooperation with the African First Ladies in their countries.
In 2017 alone, MF initiated the various activities in partnership with academia, ministries of health and the offices of First Ladies in more than 35 countries:
Over 30 African physicians received Oncology Fellowship programs spanning one to two years, with the aim to help increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa;
More than 40 candidates received three-month clinical training to be embryologists and fertility specialists in Africa and Asia to improve quality, regulated and safe fertility care in developing countries;
Over 50 medical postgraduates will receive a one-year online diploma in diabetes or preventive cardiovascular medicines, as part of the effort to establish a platform of diabetes and hypertension experts in Africa and Asia.
The MF has further emphasized that it upholds its commitment to building capacity and improving access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions with special focus on cancer and fertility care in Africa.
So far, doctors from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, Gambia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal have benefited from Merck Foundation programs.
Merck Foundation said they also aim to expand to more African and Asian countries in the near future.