Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg Haverkamp emphasized, “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of focusing on building and advancing healthcare capacity, especially training medical staff at all levels nationwide to be our first defense line. Merck Foundation has always believed in investing in building professional healthcare capacity, we will continue to do so to realize our vision – “Everyone in the world should lead a happy and fulfilling life”.
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation expressed, “I am very pleased to host the 4th edition of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Virtual Summit, it is a great opportunity to interact with my dear sisters, the African First Ladies. I value our partnership and I am proud of each one of them for the continuous support and efforts they have put to implement our programs to build healthcare capacity and advocating for a wide range of social and health issues like Supporting Girl Education, Ending Child Marriage, Stooping GBV, Breaking Infertility Stigma, women empowerment, Diabetes Awareness, among other social and health issues affecting our beloved Africa.”
“I am proud to share that till today, Merck Foundation has provided more than 1300 scholarships of one-year diploma & fellowships and two-year master degree for healthcare providers from 45 countries in 32 critical and underserved medical specialties such as diabetes, endocrinology, oncology, reproductive and sexual care, respiratory care, acute and critical care, cardiovascular, pediatric emergency, gastroenterology, psychiatry, urology, dermatology, neonatal care, fertility care and embryology and more. Many of them are becoming the first specialists in their countries, such as in Liberia, Niger, Chad, The Gambia, Burundi, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Guinea, Ethiopia, Congo, Nepal, Bangladesh and more. We are certainly making history together,” added Senator Rasha Kelej.
The MFFLI VC Summit 2022 aimed to share experiences, discuss challenges, define solutions to further strengthen healthcare capacity. The African First Ladies shared their experiences of working closely with Merck Foundation in their respective countries with a special focus on the programs to build healthcare capacity and raise awareness on sensitive social and health issues.
H.E. Mrs. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Republic of Botswana and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” said, “I am very happy to see that Merck Foundation is strongly committed to advancing healthcare in public sector across Africa, I strongly believe this will be a strong contribution to our social and economic development. Together we have provided more than 30 scholarships to local Doctors in Botswana in different underserved and critical specialties such as: Diabetes, Endocrinology, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Oncology, Respiratory Medicines, Acute Medicines and Sexual and Reproductive Medicines. Moreover, I am very happy to share that Merck Foundation has provided 20 Sewing Machines to individuals and groups across Botswana to be able to generate monthly income. We also launched together with Merck Foundation, a Poster Contest to ‘Stop GBV’ initiative to contribute to our efforts to end GBV (Gender-based Violence) in Botswana.”
H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Republic of Burundi and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” emphasized, “I am very happy to join my dear sisters at the Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Summit this year. We have a long-term partnership with Merck Foundation through which 47 scholarships have been provided to local doctors who will be the future healthcare experts of Burundi. This is a very high number in a very short time, I am proud of them, this is a historic transformation of patient care in Burundi which we will continue year after year together with Merck Foundation and our Ministries of Health, Education, Communication and Gender. It is a very successful multisectoral approach. Furthermore, we have established the first public IVF center in Burundi which is a great milestone to support infertile women and couples in their homeland for the first time in Burundi. Last but not least; 20 girls have been provided scholarships to continue their education on an annual basis.”
H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” stated, “I am extremely happy with Merck Foundation’s strong values that focus on advancing the healthcare capacity in my country. 5 scholarships have been provided by Merck Foundation so far, out of these, 1 female doctor has completed the Oncology Fellowship program to be the first Gynaecology oncologist in CAR, who will be of great help for better women healthcare in my country. This is a huge achievement and we have made history here. More than 60 women, victims of infertility stigma have been supported by Merck Foundation through Empowering Berna. They are now empowered and respected by the communities- this makes me very proud. Also, we are in the process to provide school items and scholarship grants for girls to continue their education, and reach their potential ”.
H.E. Madam DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, The First Lady of Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” said, “I feel honoured to be a member of this prestigious platform along with my dear sisters. Our valuable partnership with Merck Foundation started in 2020 and in a very short time we have made considerable progress. Around 30 scholarships have been provided to our doctors so far in the fields of Oncology, Fertility, Embryology, and Diabetes. Through our partnership with Merck Foundation, we are looking forward to benefiting more of our doctors and nurses across the country, to be able to provide better care to our patients.”
H. E. Mrs. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of Republic of The Gambia and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” emphasized, “The Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Summit is indeed a coveted platform that gives us an opportunity to exchange ideas to advance our outreach programs. Our long-term partnership with Merck Foundation has helped re-shape the public healthcare sector in my country. So far, we have provided more than 30 scholarships to young Gambian doctors in many critical and underserved specialties. Out of which, 18 scholarships have been provided for Fertility Training and one year Post Graduate Diploma and two-year master degree in Sexual and Reproductive Medicine. This has contributed significantly to transforming women’s health in general and reproductive and fertility care specifically. In fact, we are making history by providing training to first specialists in many fields such as, Oncology, Respiratory, Fertility, Embryology, Reproductive Care, Diabetes, Endocrinology, Neonatal Care and more”.
H. E. Mrs. CLAR MARIE WEAH, The First Lady of Republic of Liberia and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” stated, “I am very excited to be a member of ‘Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative’ and to be part of this Annual Summit as every year. Through Merck Foundation programs that focus on strengthening healthcare capacity, so far, we have provided 36 scholarships to our doctors in many critical and underserved specialties such as: Diabetes, Cardiovascular Preventive, endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive care, Endocrinology, Respiratory care and Acute & Intensive care, Oncology and Fertility Specialists and Embryology Training. We have made history by providing specialty training for the first Fertility, Embryologists, Oncologists and Diabetes Specialists in the country. I am very proud of this achievement. I would like to thank Merck Foundation for providing Sanitary Napkin Production Machine and raw materials for Liberia under the ‘Hygiene Management of School Girls’ and Merck Foundation’s ‘Educating Linda’ program. We will now be able to provide thousands of good quality Sanitary pads to our schoolgirls, ensuring good menstrual hygiene for them so they can continue their education and stop dropping from school.”H.E. Mrs. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of Republic of Malawi and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” said, “I am very happy to meet you all virtually at the Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Summit 2022. I have been working closely with Merck Foundation since 2020 to define the right strategy to build professional healthcare capacity, empower infertile women and support girl education in Malawi which is very close to my heart. So far, we have provided more than 21 scholarships to our Malawian doctors in many critical medical specialties. We have made history together with Merck Foundation by providing training to the country’s first Fertility specialists under the Merck Foundation ‘More Than a Mother’ program. Through our long-term partnership, we are looking forward to benefiting more of our doctors and nurses across the country, to be able to provide better care to our patients and our communities. Moreover, 13 women from Malawi have benefitted through Merck Foundation’s ‘Empowering Berna’ initiative. Through the Foundation’s ‘Educating Linda’ program; 40 best performing girls have benefited from an education grant to continue their education from the secondary school until graduation. This is a huge milestone to empower our young girls. Other than this, Merck Foundation has helped us provide 3000 sets of essential school items to school students, especially girls.”
H.E. Madam BAZOUM HADIZA MABROUK, The First Lady of Republic of Niger and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” expressed, “This is the first time to join and become a member of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Summit; I am very happy to hear all my dear sisters talk about their success stories and the impact of Merck Foundation’s programs in their countries. So far, more than 25 scholarships have been provided to young doctors of Niger in the fields of Oncology, Fertility & Embryology and Diabetes Care. Additionally, 3,000 sets of essential school items have been provided to our school girls to help them with their education. I am looking forward to an important and long-term partnership with Merck Foundation to capitalize on their valuable programs by scaling them up nationwide to contribute to the social and economic development of Niger.”
H.E. Dr. Mrs. AISHA MUHAMMADU BUHARI, The First Lady of Republic of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” and President of African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) emphasized, “I deeply value our partnership with Merck Foundation who has led the way to build healthcare capacity and provide specialty training to our local doctors so that they can provide the quality healthcare in Nigeria since 2015 . I recently met my dear sister Senator Rasha Kelej at Merck Foundation office to discuss the progress of our ongoing programs and the new initiatives. I am proud that we have been able to provide 32 scholarships to young Nigerian doctors in several critical and underserved specialties including Fertility & Embryology, Diabetes, Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual & Reproductive Medicine, Respiratory Medicine and Clinical Microbiology & infectious diseases. All these fields are very critical to our country and will definitely help us strengthen our public healthcare sector, moreover providing scholarship grants to school girls to continue their education and reach their potential which is very close to my heart.”
H.E. Mrs. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Republic of Sierra Leone and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” stated, “I am very happy with Merck Foundation’s efforts to build healthcare capacity and address health challenges in my country. I have been associated with Merck Foundation since 2018 and in a short span of time, we have been able to transform the public healthcare sector in my country in various underserved and critical specialties. Till today more than 40 scholarships have been provided to our doctors in the fields of Oncology, Embryology & Fertility, Sexual and Reproductive Health Medicine, Diabetes, Endocrinology, Orthopaedics, Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Clinical Psychiatry, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine, Respiratory Medicine and Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine. We are making history along with Merck Foundation by providing training for the First Oncologists in the country with the aim to establish the first skilled cancer care team that can improve access to quality and equitable cancer care in the country. I am looking forward to work closely with Merck Foundation in order to further advance the healthcare capacity in my country.”
H.E. Dr. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Republic of Zimbabwe and Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” said, “I would like to acknowledge the valuable partnership my country shares with Merck Foundation over the years we have been working together to advance healthcare capacity in Zimbabwe. I am very pleased that we have been able to provide more than 85 scholarships to young Doctors from the country in various critical and under-served specialties. We have certainly been able to re-shape the landscape of the public healthcare sector in my country. I am looking forward to all the exciting initiatives we have in the pipeline with Merck Foundation to transform the lives of people every day with a special focus on media training, different awards, children storybooks, girl education, childless women empowerment and breaking the Infertility stigma.”