Welcome note from Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation

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As the CEO of Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck, I am very proud to work together with all of you to realize our vision of a world where ‘Everyone Can Lead a Healthy and Fulfilling Life’.

It gives us a great honor to have The President of Zambia, H.E. Dr. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU with us today to officially inaugurate the 8th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary, that Co-chair with the First Lady of Zambia, H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU.

First of all, I would like to acknowledge our Chairman of Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp for his valuable guidance and support for Merck Foundation strategy and programs to enable us to create a significant impact in the under-served communities across the world and specially during coronavirus pandemic.

Today, due to the global pandemic of Covid-19 we couldn’t conduct the annual conference of Merck Foundation in Zambia as planned, therefore, we are pleased to conduct it online as a Videoconference, where more than 5000 participants from more than 70 countries can meet and discuss strategies and solutions for health challenges in their countries with that aim to contribute to improving access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions and building healthcare capacity in many critical and underserved medical fields such as: Diabetes, Cardiovascular, Endocrinology, Cancer, Research, Fertility Care, Women Health, Sexual & Reproductive Care, Respiratory Medicines, and Acute Medicines. More than 1100 doctor from 42 countries have benefited from Merck Foundation scholarship in the above fields, and more will join in the next few years to benefit from more scholarships in more specialties such as: Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Mental Health, Orthopedic Trauma, Paediatric, Emergency Medicine, Dermatology, Neonatal Medicine, Pain Management, Psychiatry, Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Ophthalmology, Urology, Trauma and Orthopedics.

Merck Foundation has started this smart capacity building strategy in partnership with African First Ladies and Ministries of Health and Medical Societies since 2012, which contributed significantly towards transforming and reshaping the landscape of the public healthcare sector and towards advancing patient care in 42 countries. It is history in the making.

Moreover, today we are going to celebrate together the 4th Anniversary of Merck Foundation. Thank you for joining us.

I would like to welcome and thank our Guests of Honour, Keynote Speakers, and “Merck Foundation More Than a Mother” Ambassadors, the First Ladies of 13 African Countries:

H.E. First Lady of Zambia, Co-chairperson of 8th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary, H.E. First Lady of Angola, H.E. First Lady of Botswana, H.E. First Lady of Burkina Faso, H.E. First Lady of Burundi, H.E. First Lady of Central African Republic, H.E. First Lady of the Democratic Republic of the Congia, H.E. First Lady of Ghana, H.E. First Lady Guinea Conakry, H.E. First Lady of Liberia, H.E. First Lady of Malawi, H.E. First Lady of Mozambique, H.E. First Lady of Namibia.

Together we will discuss our strategy realization to build healthcare capacity, respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, provide the necessary training to establish a strong platform of experts in many important and critical specialties in their countries in collaboration with their Offices and Ministries of Health. We will also define interventions to break the stigma around infertility in general and infertile women in specific and to support girls education as Ambassadors of "Merck Foundation More Than a Mother" campaign.

We will acknowledge this year the efforts and sacrifices of our everyday heroes, our medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic, and we will celebrate our joint achievements and your dedicated contribution to ensure our programs have a significant impact in your countries.

I would like to welcome Hon. Ministers of Health, Education, Information and Gender for their support to enable us to contribute to the development of the healthcare sector and raise awareness about Health and Social issues such as infertility stigma.

I would also like to thank our Partners for their valuable participation and support to make great things happen.

Merck Foundation underscores their long-term commitment to build healthcare capacity in more countries and with more Partners and we will work closely with all of you to realize our vision and lead the world to a better future.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej
CEO of Merck Foundation,
President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother,
Chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary