Merck Foundation plans to conduct 5th Edition of “Merck Africa Asia Luminary” in Dakar, Senegal


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  • 5th Edition of “Merck Africa Asia Luminary” will be conducted under the patronage of The President of Senegal, H.E. MACKY SALL. 
  • Merck foundation will celebrate 350th Anniversary of Merck and the 1st anniversary of Merck foundation during their Luminary. 
  • 14 African First Ladies, 20 Ministers of Health and More than 500 African healthcare providers from Africa and Asia to benefit from several educational and social development sessions


From (L-R) H.E. First Lady of the Republic of Chad Madame Hinda Deby Itno; H.E. First Lady of the Republic of Niger Madame Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG; ; H.E. First Lady of the Republic of Guinea Madame Conde Djene; H.E. First Lady of Central African Republic H.E. Madame Brigitte Touadera; Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation; H.E. First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia, Madame Fatoumattah Bah-Barrow; and Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams, the Chairperson of the National Council of the Republic of Namibia during 4th Edition of Merck Africa Asia Luminary in Cairo, Egypt

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany plans to conduct 5th Edition of “Merck Africa Asia Luminary” under the patronage of The President of The Republic of Senegal, H.E. MACKY SALL and The First Lady of Senegal, H.E. MARIEME FAYE SALL, and in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Senegal.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “Merck Foundation is very proud to welcome our guests of honor and keynote speakers, The First Ladies of 14 African Countries; H.E. First Lady of Benin, H.E. First Lady of Botswana, First Lady of Burkina Faso, H.E. First Lady of Burundi, H.E. First Lady of Central African Republic, H.E. First Lady of Chad, H.E. First Lady of Gambia, H.E. First Lady of Ghana, H.E. First Lady of Guinea –Bissau, H.E. First lady of Lesotho, H.E. First Lady of Niger, H.E. First lady of Sierra Leone and H.E. First Lady of Zambia. Together we will work on strong strategy to build healthcare capacity and provide the necessary training to establish a strong platform of experts in Diabetes, Hypertension, Cancer and Fertility care in their countries in collaboration with their offices and ministries of health.”

“During the conference, Merck Foundation will also celebrate two important occasions; the 350th Anniversary of Merck, the World’s Oldest Pharmaceutical & Chemical Company established in 1668 and the 1st Anniversary of Merck Foundation” Dr. Kelej added.

The President of The Republic of Senegal, H.E. MACKY SALL will deliver his address and closing remarks on the Day 2 of the conference.
The First Lady of Senegal, H.E. MARIEME FAYE SALL will deliver the keynote speech along with H.E. CLAUDINE TALON, The First Lady of Benin;
H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana;
H.E. SIKA BELLA KABORÉ, The First Lady of Burkina Faso;
H.E. DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of the Republic of Burundi;
H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central Africa Republic;
H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad;
H.E. MADAME FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia;
H.E. ROSA GOUDIABY VAZ, The First Lady of Guinea Bissau;
H.E. MAESAIAH THABANE, The First Lady of Lesotho;
H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone;
H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia;

Message from Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation

Two high level Ministerial panels will also take place.

The first high level Ministerial panel on “Building Fertility care capacity and breaking the Infertility Stigma in Africa and Asia” will involve Hon. Abdoulaye Diouf SARR, Minister of Health and Social Action, of Sénégal; Hon. Sarah Opendi, Minister of State for Health of Uganda; Hon. Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health, Republic of Zambia; Hon. Susan Shabangu, Minister of Social Development, South Africa; Hon. Dr. Rashid A. Aman; Deputy Minister of Health, Ministry of Health of KenyaDr. Wim Leereveld, Founder-Access to Medicine Foundation, Chairman Index Initiative building, World Benchmarking Alliance; Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Fertility Society; Prof. Joe Leigh Simpson, Past President of International Federation of Fertility Societies – IFFS; Dr. Kamini Rao, Chairperson of IIRRH, India; Prof. Dr. Satish Kumar Adiga, Professor & Head, Department of Clinical Embryology, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education; Mr. Paolo Carli, Head of Middle East & Africa, Merck Biopharma; Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer, Merck Foundation.

The second high level Ministerial panel on “The role of Merck Foundation together with Governments to improve access to equitable healthcare solutions in Africa” will involve Hon. Dr. Idi Illiassou Maïnassara, Minister of Public Health,  of the Niger; Hon. Aziz Mahamat Saleh Ahmat, Minister of Public Health, of Chad; Hon. Dr. Pierre Somse, Minister of Health and Population, Central African Republic; Hon. Dr. Alpha Tejan Wurie, Minister of Health and Sanitation, of Sierra Leone; Hon. Dr. Thaddée NDIKUMANA, Minister of Health and Fight against Aids, of Burundi; Hon. Dr. Isatou Touray, Minister for Health and Social Welfare, of The Gambia; Hon. Julieta Kavetuna, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, of NamibiaProf. Dr. Kailash Sharma, Dean: Academic Projects, Tata Memorial Centre, India; Prof. Dileep Mhaisekar, Vice Chancellor - Maharastra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) India; Prof. Abdel-Rahman Zekri, Vice Dean - National Cancer Institute, Cairo University; Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer, Merck Foundation.

Countries participating include: Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Canada, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Côte D'ivoire, D R of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea –Bissau, Guinea Conakry, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherland, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, U.A.E, U.K, U.S.A, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
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 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 17 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, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign;

In many cultures, childless women suffer discrimination, stigma, and ostracism. Their inability to have children results in great isolation, disinheritance, and assaults. “Merck More Than a Mother” empowers such women through the access to information, health, change of mindsets and economic empowerment.
As part of this Campaign, we started “Empowering Berna” project 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 1,000 women across the continent.
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 Asia.
Merck Foundation provided for more than 50 candidates, three months to six months clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 29 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire , Ghana, Ethiopia , Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania , Zambia , Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Burkina Fuso, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameron, Rwanda, Botswana,  DR Congo , Congo Brazzaville, Gambia , Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, and Guinea. 
Merck Foundation plan supported the establishment of the first public IVF centers in Ethiopia and Uganda through providing the clinical and practical training necessary for their staff. Merck Foundation also plans to support the establishment of the first public IVF in Tanzania soon.
“Merck More Than a Mother” launched in 2015, is a program of the Merck Foundation, the foundation drives many of our initiatives and programs in the area of build health care and research capacity and improves access to equitable healthcare solutions.

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About Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flicker.

About Merck

Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 52,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma.