Merck Foundation, has held the 9th edition of the Merck Africa Asia luminary conference with a call on African first ladies to prioritize infertility and stigma challenges.
The annual conference, running from November 15-16, 2022, among other things seeks to contribute to the social and economic development of developing countries and improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions.
It is also to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Merck Foundation and 10 years of establishing development and capacity building programmes of Merck Foundation which started in 2012.
The conference is being attended both online and in-person and is on the theme "Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2022 Together We Make a Difference"
Senator Dr Rasha Kelej, the Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, speaking at the opening appreciated the African first ladies for participating in the meeting.
She said the conference provided an opportunity for participating African first ladies from 15 countries to talk about the strategies and impact of Merck Foundation partnership programmes in building healthcare capacity and their role in breaking infertility stigma and supporting girl education.
The CEO explained that Merck Foundation over the years had awarded more than 1, 470 scholarships to doctors in 50 countries to contribute to the transformation of patient care in their respective counties.
The doctors today are specialists in various fields such as diabetes, fertility, oncology, reproductive health, cardiology, endocrinology, respiratory and acute medicine, and health media, she said.
Senator Kelej said the doctors aside transforming healthcare were also helping to raise health awareness to improve disease management, early detection & prevention, to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions across developing countries.
Professor Dr Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of both the Executive Board of E. Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, spoke on the various programmes embarked on by the Foundation.
He said the first ladies thus play a critical role in the well-being of women and girls in their respective countries.
Prof Stangenberg-Haverkamp said good healthcare could transform the lives of individuals and families across developing countries and contributed significantly to the sustainable economic development of any country, adding that healthcare was the major driver of growth and consequently social progress.
He noted that the challenges African nations faced were huge, but the Merck Foundation was committed to working closely with African countries to overcome them and urged the first ladies to stay together to make a difference in their respective countries.
The conference is being attended by First Ladies of 15 African countries including Ghana, Botswana, Central African Republic, Burundi, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Liberia, Malawi, Mozanbique, Namibia, and Niger.
The rest are Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Zambia, as well Ministers of Health, Gender, Information and Education and over a 6000 healthcare providers and policy makers.