By Josephine Akaerr, Special Correspondent
The philanthropic arm of Merck KgaA Merck Foundation kickstarted the 8th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” on April 27, 2021, through an online videoconference. It was co-chaired by The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and Senator H.E. Esther Lungu, CEO of Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kelej.
During his keynote speech, while inaugurating the conference, The President of Zambia, H.E Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu emphasized “I am very glad to be hosting this important conference together with Merck Foundation, our long term strategic partner. It is a great honor to inaugurate the conference alongside the First Ladies of Africa. I am certain that this conference will help us to further explore partnership opportunities and introduce new frameworks for cooperation in the area of health care capacity building and to define interventions to break infertility stigma and support girl education”.
Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp expressed “I would like to welcome and also thank our partners, African First Ladies, African Ministers and health experts from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the rest of the world to join hands with us in order to realize Merck Foundation’s vision: ‘Everyone in the world should lead a happy and fulfilling life’, we have achieved together, a huge success and we are going to continue and extend our support to achieve more”.
During her Keynote address and welcome speech, The First Lady of Zambia and Co-chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021 , H.E. Esther Lungu emphasized “I am very happy to co-chair and host this important conference of Merck Foundation and also to celebrate together the 4th anniversary of Merck Foundation, our long term partner in building healthcare capacity and improving access to health, information and breaking the infertility stigma. Also, I am delighted to have my dear sisters, The First Ladies of Africa at this conference”.
Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “We welcomed The First Ladies of 13 African Countries, who are also the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation More than a Mother, to this important conference. Together, we have worked closely throughout the years on a strong strategy to build healthcare capacity by providing specialized training in various specialties; and define interventions to break infertility stigma and support girls’ education.
I am very proud that we have so far provided for more than 1100 Doctors from 42 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America with one & two-, three-year specialty training in multiple fields such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Human Assisted Reproduction and Embryology & Fertility specialty, to be the first in their countries. Moreover, we have now widened our horizons by introducing more scholarships for young doctors in many new underserved specialties across Africa and Asia.”
The 8th Edition of the Luminary marked another important milestone: the 4th Anniversary of Merck Foundation.
As part of the Luminary, Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Committee (MFFLI) High-Level Panel was conducted, which was attended by the 13 African First Ladies, who are the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother.