- Merck Foundation CEO, Dr. Rasha Kelej has met the First Lady of Kenya, H.E. MADAM MARGARET KENYATTA to discuss partnership opportunities with aim to build healthcare capacity in the fields of Oncology, fertility and diabetes through nationwide programs.
The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. MADAM MARGARET KENYATTA emphasized, “It was an honor and to meet and hold talks with the Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kelej. I am looking forward to partnering in the training of more oncologists and experts in diabetes and infertility management, as well as in @BeyondZeroKenya.”
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother explained, “I am proud and elated to meet Her Excellency The First Lady of Kenya, MADAM MARGARET KENYATTA to discuss Merck Foundation’s commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of people of Kenya by improving access to quality and equitable healthcare in the country by training more doctors in the fields of Fertility, Cancer and Diabetes care through nationwide programs. Also, to work closely to break the stigma of infertility in Kenya and other African countries.”
About Merck Foundation in Kenya
Merck Foundation launched ‘Empowering Berna’ project under the flagship global program ‘Merck More than a Mother’ in Africa to help childless and infertile women starting their own business and thus achieve financial independence and become stronger and happier. The project has benefited more than 100 women across Kenya.
Merck Foundation has provided embryology training on fertility specialty to Kenyan doctors in the past two years and will continue this program to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care in the country.
Merck Foundation has developed two-year oncology fellowship program in partnership with University of Nairobi, Kenya to improve cancer care in the country. Merck foundation has enrolled six doctors and will continue to enroll more in the next five years with the aim to build cancer care capacity nationwide.
Merck Foundation has also provided eight Kenyan doctors with one year diabetes and hypertension diploma and will continue to enroll more doctors from all counties in collaboration with local governments in the next five years through their nationwide Merck Foundation Diabetes blue points project in Kenya.
Moreover, Merck Foundation also provided first ever Health Media Training to more than 150 journalists from different part of Kenya to benefit in understanding the infertility issue in African communities and to learn the best media practices to cover such issues and raise awareness by following international standards of reporting and media ethics.
Merck Foundation also partnered with local singers to produce songs to address infertility stigma and empower infertile women in their communities. The songs were produced by Octopizzo and Suzan.
About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign;
“Merck More Than a Mother” initiative aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and health and by changing mind-sets. This powerful initiative supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention and management. In partnership with academia, ministries of health and international fertility societies, the initiative also provides medical education and training for healthcare providers and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.
With “Merck More than a mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training the skills of local experts, building advocacy in cooperation with decision makers and by supporting childless women in starting their own small business. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.
Also, part of the campaign is our Merck Embryology & Fertility Training Program, a three-month hands-on practical course to establish the platform of fertility specialists across Africa and developing countries. Merck Foundation provided for more than 109 candidates, in clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 30 countries across Africa and Asia.
Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck more than a Mother such as;
- Merck More than a Mother media recognition award and health media training
- Merck More than a Mother fashion award
- Merck More than a Mother film award
- Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
About Merck Oncology Fellowship Program
The Merck Oncology Fellowship Program, a key initiative of Merck Cancer Access Program, focuses on building additional capacity through medical education and training. The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.
Merck Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa and Developing countries. The program provides One-year fellowship program at Tata Memorial Centre - India, One and half-years Oncology Fellowship programs at University of Malaya - Malaysia, Two years Oncology Fellowship Program at University of Nairobi - Kenya and Two years Master degree in Medical, Surgical, Pediatric and Radiation Oncology at Cairo University - Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.
Launched in 2016, over 43 candidates from more than 21 African countries have rolled in the Merck Oncology Fellowship Program. The program will continue to build cancer care capability in African countries such as Botswana, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
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