Community members in Uganda waiting to be screened during the event
While people across the globe were recognizing World Cancer Day: “We can. I can” to highlight the on-going fight against cancer, Merck joined hands with Uganda’s Ministry of Health to raise awareness about cancer early detection and prevention in the heart of Africa, highlighting the fact that reducing the global burden of the disease depends on the work and dedication of many to prevent and treat it.
“We have no doubt that in order to prevent and reduce the high death rates from cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), we will need to see collaboration and collective action from health ministries, governments, NGOs, academia, media and industry. The size and complexity of the task is so large that no single institution can manage on its own, and so integration of effort is necessary to improve access to sustainable cancer care in Africa. We believe that prevention is better than cure, so today Merck joins hands with Ministry of Health to raise cancer awareness in the rural areas of Uganda,” said Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer of Merck Healthcare.
Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer Merck Healthcare interacts with community members as they wait to be screened for diabetes and given information on cancer early detection and prevention
Merck has reached more than 4,000 Ugandans to enable them to prevent the diseases and give them advice on how to lead healthier lives. By 2018 Merck aims to reach 100,000 community members through its combined diabetes and cancer awareness campaigns as part of Merck Cancer Control Program-MCCP. Merck aims to improve access to cancer care in Africa via conducting Merck Cancer Day: TOGETHER WE CAN FIGHT CANCER EVERY DAY.
At the launch of the campaign, Uganda’s Minister of State of Health, Sarah Opendi stated that most cancer patients report to the health facility when cancer is in the advanced stage which poses a challenge because nothing much can be done to save the patient’s life. This is partly due to the nature of the cancers since they have no symptoms in early stages but also due to our poor health seeking behaviors.
“According to World Health Organization (WHO), over one third of cancer deaths are due to preventable causes such as viral infection, poor nutrition and widespread tobacco use. It is important to note that once diagnosed early cancer can be treated and cured. Uganda just like other developing countries faces a wide range of health system challenges and cancer is often not a priority in limited resource settings. Therefore the Ministry of Health appreciates private public partnerships with reputable companies like Merck to promote key health guidelines and raise awareness about cancer so that people learn how to detect and prevent it,” she added.
Hon. Sarah Opendi, Uganda’s Minister of State for Health (center) and Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer Merck Healthcare with community members during the event
According to WHO by 2020 there are expected to be 16 million new cases of cancer every year, 70% of which will be in developing countries where governments are least prepared to address the growing cancer burden and where survival rates are often less than half those of more developed countries.
About Merck Cancer Day: “Together we Can fight Cancer Every Day” as part of its Cancer Control Program
Merck started its Cancer Control Program: “Together we can fight Cancer Every Day” in May 2015. The program is a new initiative of Merck’s 5 year Capacity Advancement Program (CAP).
Through the program, Merck will hold cancer awareness and prevention campaigns across the continent under the umbrella of Merck Cancer Days: “Together we can fight Cancer Every Day” to encourage people to think about cancer early detection and prevention every day.
Take a moment to watch cancer survivor, Rose Chiedo’s video below to give you an idea about cancer in African communities, her inspiration story of challenges, hope and survival.
Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer Merck Healthcare addressing the community
“Merck Cancer Access Program”- M-CAP roadmap and CEO news in Africa
Merck in partnership with University of Nairobi, Nairobi Government and Ministry of Health, kicked off their first combined Diabetes and Cancer campaign in Nairobi, Kenya as part of Merck Cancer Control Program (MCCP) in May 2015. The program is a new initiative of Merck’s 5 year Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) which this year for the first time includes cancer.
“The Merck Cancer Control Program (MCCP) aims to partner with top experts across the globe to assist African countries in implementing comprehensive cancer prevention and control programs,” said Belen Garijo, CEO of Merck Healthcare during the launch. “This campaign is part of a very ambitious 5 year program, Merck Cancer Control Program- MCCP which will be rolled out in other African countries within the year and will be augmented by community awareness and strong educational programs for medical students across Africa,” she added.
More than 2,000 people will be targeted with free cancer education and diabetes screening to enable Kenyans prevent the diseases and give them advice on how to lead healthier lives. By 2018 Merck aims to reach 100,000 community members through its combined diabetes and cancer awareness campaigns.
At the launch of the campaign Dr Evans Kidero, the Governor of Nairobi stated that: “Diabetes is a silent deadly disease that is growing rapidly in Kenya and across Africa and in developing countries, as is cancer. Therefore I salute Merck for coming with the idea of conducting Combined Cancer and Diabetes campaigns since there are common risk factors between the two diseases and as well as the rest of NCDs, such as tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.”
“The challenges in the health sector are diverse and resources are often limited hence we need to join hands with reputable partners such as Merck to fight this emerging threat from NCDs like diabetes and cancer through any support possible especially in creating national capacity and increasing awareness of the threats and ways to prevent the diseases,” Dr Kidero added.
Watch the video below of Belen Garijo in Kenya and learn how Merck improves access to cancer care across the continent.
Watch Merck Cancer Control Program cancer detection and prevention patient education tips in English