Botswana First Lady partners with Merck Foundation and African First Ladies to strengthen healthcare capacity and COVID-19 response in Africa

Source: @njmasisi (Twitter)

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany yesterday conducted its 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 programs, Mrs Masisi said;

“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,” Mrs Masisi added.

For his part, Merck Foundation and 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020) finalist, Dr Rasha Kelej;

“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 Program, 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 seven doctors from different districts have already graduated from the one-year Diabetes Diploma, out of which two candidates have been further enrolled in the one-year master’s degree course. In addition to this, nine 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 to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities.”

Considering the limited number of Gynaecologists across Botswana, together with The First Lady of Botswana and Ministry of Health, Merck Foundation enrolled seven doctors on one- year Online Post Graduate Diploma and a two-year master degree in Sexual and Reproductive Medicine from the University of South Wales, UK. This program will significantly improve women’s health, in particular, reproductive health in Botswana.

This year, other doctors were enrolled in various programmes: two in a year-long Online Post Graduate Diploma in Endocrinology & Preventive Cardiovascular medicines programme, while six enrolled in a year-long Online Post Graduate Diploma in Respiratory Medicines and 1-year Online Post Graduate Diploma in Acute Medicine 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 specialities” Dr Kelej added.

During the Summit, the First Ladies of Africa underscored the importance of Merck Foundation’s successful strategy of healthcare capacity building by providing training to young African doctors since 2012, long 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 in these courses to build a strong medical army across Africa and the global South,” Dr Kelej concluded.

About Merck Foundation

Established in 2017, the Merck Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany. The foundation aims to improve people’s health and wellbeing and advance their lives through science and technology. Its efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.

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7 months ago

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