By Cecilia Ologunagba
Abuja, July 9, 2020 (NAN) Merck Foundation, philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, says it has provided one to three-year Oncology fellowship and masters degree for for No fewer than 80 doctors from 26 countries to improve cancer care.
Dr Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer of Merck, in a statement on Thursday, said the foundation joined hands with African first ladies to achieve the feat.
The countries are: Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Our strategy is to develop a Multidisciplinary Oncology Care team in each country such as; Medical, Surgery, Pediatric, Gynecology, Radiation Oncologists, Nursing, Pathologist and Radiology Technician.
“As an African woman, I am proud that we are making history in Africa through training the first oncologists and first cancer care teams in many countries.
“Our main objective is to provide quality and affordable care to patients who never had anyone to care for them before,” Kelej said.
According to her, the burden of cancer in Africa is growing with recent estimates reporting 1.06 million new diagnosed cancer cases per year.
This figure is expected to increase by 102 per cent to 2.12 million by 2040 and, while the burden of cancer in Africa is rapidly rising, there is a very limited number of oncologists.
“Also, there is a lack of investment in building professional cancer care capacity across the continent,’’ she said.
Kelej said that building professional healthcare capacity was the right strategy to address the pressing challenge.
“It is an ongoing initiative as the aim is to build cancer care capacity and we plan to scale it up to train more doctors in more African countries.
According to her, some of the first ladies from the benefiting countries appreciated the foundation for supporting the doctors to improve cancer care.
The statement, however, quoted First Lady of The Gambia, Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, as saying, “I am very proud with this programme.
“I am proud of the programme that added great value to my country, The Gambia, by providing specialty training for the first oncologists in my country.”
Also, the First Lady of Liberia, Clar Weah, said that Merck Foundation was the first foundation that provided this valuable specialty training to first oncologists in Liberia.
“They are also providing the training for the first fertility specialists, embryologists and diabetes specialists in my country Liberia.’’
In addition, Weah said in partnership with her office, Merck Foundation would also provide online one year diploma and two year masters degree in other areas of medicine.
“ They will provide in Respiratory Medicines, Cardiovascular Medicines, Sexual and Reproductive Medicines, Acute medicines and Endocrinology for Liberia and of course the rest of Africa.”
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aimed to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology.
The foundation is focused on improving access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity.
It was also empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. (NAN)
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)