DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Botswana First Lady Joins Merck Foundation First Ladies Summit Via Videoconference

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  • Healthcare Capacity And COVID-19 Response In Africa Feature At Discourse

By Angeline Mgbele, Correspondent Abuja

The philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany Merck Foundation conducted their first Video Conference Summit of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI). The MFFLI VC Summit was attended by 13 African First Ladies including the First Lady of Botswana, H.E. Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi, who is also the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother, to discuss their joint efforts to build healthcare capacity and strengthen the response to COVID-19 in the country and Africa at large.

Congratulating Merck Foundation on the success of MFFLI VC Summit and their joint programmes, H.E. Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi, The First Lady of Botswana expressed, “I am happy to be a part of this prestigious platform as an Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother; which is a valuable partnership which started in 2018. I also take this opportunity to appreciate Merck Foundation’s strategy of building healthcare capacity; it is relevant now more than ever given the challenges posed by the current pandemic. To date, 35 young doctors from Botswana have enrolled in one year diploma programmes across different medical specialities. This program will contribute to the transformation of the healthcare landscape of Botswana”.

“Let us focus on our joint efforts to fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV), in order to protect humanity, especially the girls and women. GBV destroys families and also takes us back in the achievement of development goals, both at national and international level. As First Ladies, the vulnerable are naturally looking up to us to make our contribution … to act, to speak louder as we use our advocacy stage”, Neo Masisi added.

CEO of Merck Foundation Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “I am proud of our partnership with The First Lady of Botswana. Together, we successfully implemented the first pilot project of Merck Foundation

Diabetes Blue Points Programme, with the aim to improve access to equitable and quality diabetes care nationwide by providing a One-year online Post Graduate Diploma in Diabetes Management from the University of South Wales. I am proud that 7 doctors from different districts, have already graduated from one-year Diabetes Diploma, out of which 2 candidates have been further enrolled in one-year master’s degree course. In addition to this, 9 candidates have been enrolled in the online Diabetes Master course accredited by Diabetes UK. These doctors will be able to establish a diabetes clinic in their Health Centre or Hospital with the aim to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities”.

Considering the limited number of Gynecologists across Botswana, together with The First Lady of Botswana, H.E. Neo Masisi and Ministry of Health, Merck Foundation enrolled 7 doctors to One Year Online Post Graduate Diploma and two-year master degree in Sexual and Reproductive Medicine from the University of South Wales, UK. This programme will significantly improve women’s health, in particular reproductive health in Botswana.

Moreover, 2 Doctors were enrolled this year to One Year Online Post Graduate Diploma in Endocrinology & Preventive Cardiovascular medicines whereas, 6 Doctors were enrolled to One Year Online Post Graduate Diploma in Respiratory Medicines & One Year Online Post Graduate Diploma in Acute Medicine with the aim to advance their skills to better manage coronavirus patients and risk groups in the country”.

“Merck Foundation will continue to provide medical training to doctors from Botswana in various medical specialties” Dr. Kelej added.

During the Summit, the First Ladies of Africa underscored the importance of Merck Foundation’s successful strategy of healthcare capacity building through providing training to young African doctors, since 2012, even before the pandemic started.

“Therefore, Merck Foundation has initiated the online medical training and I am delighted to announce that we have so far enrolled over 420 African doctors to these courses with the aim to to build a strong medical army across Africa and global South” concluded Dr. Kelej, One of 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020).

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