I am proud to share that I, together with Prof. Frank Stangenberg -Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, have hosted our first Video Conference Summit of the Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) on 31st August 2020. This special edition of the summit enabled us to work closely to define and follow up on different joint programs that aim to advance public healthcare sector capacity and strengthen the response to COVID-19 in Africa.
During the summit, Merck Foundation introduced its new online special education and training strategy, which was adopted as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud that we have successfully enrolled more than 350 African doctors into one-year online diploma and two-year online master’s degree in many medical specialties such as: Respiratory Medicines and Acute medicines, Diabetes, Cardiology, Endocrinology, and Sexual and Reproductive Medicines. This is in addition to more than 500 African and Asian doctors who benefited from our original clinical training programs in Diabetes & Cardiovascular, Oncology, Fertility, and Embryology in India, Egypt, Kenya, and Malaysia, which will all resume immediately after the lockdown ends.
The MFFLI VC Summit 2020 was attended by 13 African First Ladies who are also Merck More Than a Mother Ambassadors; H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe; H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia; H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone; H.E. AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU, The First Lady of Niger; H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia; H.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique; H.E. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of Malawi; H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana; H. E. FATOUMATTA BAHBARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic; H.E. ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi; H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana; H.E. ANA DIAS LOURENÇO, The First Lady of Angola.
I’d like to specifically congratulate and welcome to our platform the new members; the First Ladies of Angola, Burundi and Malawi. They will add great value to our initiative and looking forward to working closely with them.
I am proud and delighted to work closely with all the African First Ladies, our long term partners, to further advance healthcare capacity and improve access to equitable and quality healthcare solutions, which has proven to be very critical for Africa, especially during this difficult time of COVID -19 pandemic.
I am looking forward to continuing our long-term partnership and to meet them all in person at the 7th edition of Merck Africa Asia Luminary in Zambia next year after the Coronavirus pandemic ends and we hopefully are back to normal.
Dr. Rasha Kelej,
CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck More Than a Mother
One of the 100 Most Influential Africans (2019 & 2020)