Merck Foundation to help build healthcare capacity in Senegal

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 September 2018:

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation met Macky Sall – President of Senegal on 30th August 2018 to discuss Merck Foundation’s strong and long-term commitment to build healthcare capacity in Senegal. Merck Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany.

“I am proud and elated to meet The President to discuss Merck Foundation’s commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of people of Senegal, by improving access to quality and equitable healthcare in the country”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.

During the meeting, Dr. Kelej also finalized Merck Foundation’s annual conference 5th Edition of “Merck Africa Asia Luminary” to be conducted at CICAD, Dakar, Senegal on 30th & 31st of October 2018, under the patronage of The President of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall and The First Lady of Senegal, H.E. Marieme Faye Sall, and in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Senegal.

It will be attended by more than 450 healthcare providers, policy makers, academia and researchers from over 45 African and Asian countries.

The objective is to improve disease management, early detection and prevention, build healthcare and scientific research capacity and improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions across Africa and Asia.

Merck Foundation CEO also conducted a meeting with the Minister of Health of Senegal, Hon. Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr to discuss the procedure for providing one and two years Oncology Fellowship to Senegalese doctors for the next five years.

They also talked about the training for Fertility specialists to improve access to quality fertility care in the country and providing Diabetes Diploma in French to improve Diabetes care in Senegal.

“We are excited to partner with Merck Foundation and are happy with their strong commitment and the efficient execution of their programs in the country” said Hon. Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr.

Moreover, Dr. Rasha Kelej was invited by World Health Organization – WHO, during its Regional Meeting for African Ministers of Health in Dakar, to share her experience in conducting Merck More Than a Mother campaign to improve access to fertility care and break the stigma around infertile women.

“It was my pleasure to be a part of WHO’s Regional Meeting for Ministers of Health of Africa to discuss the inclusion of fertility care on the global health agenda. I look forward to a long-term relation with WHO to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care solutions and include infertility in the global health agenda. It is now time from my dream, to empower infertile women and couples in Africa and developing countries, to come true” concluded Dr. Rasha Kelej.

About Merck Foundation:

The Merck Foundation (, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology.

Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a 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.   Please go to  to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.

About Merck:

Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 53,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2017, Merck generated sales of € 15.3 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand.

The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma

About Merck Oncology Fellowship Program:

The Merck Oncology Fellowship Program, a key initiative of Merck Cancer Access Program, focuses on building additional capacity through medical education and training.

The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.

Merck Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa and Developing countries.

The program provides One-year fellowship program at Tata Memorial Centre – India, One and half-years Oncology Fellowship programs at University of Malaya – Malaysia, Two years Oncology Fellowship Program at University of Nairobi – Kenya and Two years Master degree in Medical Oncology at Cairo University – Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.

Launched in 2016, over 43 candidates from more than 17 African countries have rolled in the Merck Oncology Fellowship Program. The program will continue to build cancer care capability in African countries such as Botswana, Cameroon, CAR, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign:

In many cultures, childless women suffer discrimination, stigma, and ostracism. Their inability to have children results in great isolation, disinheritance, and assaults. “Merck More Than a Mother” empowers such women through the access to information, health, change of mindsets and economic empowerment.

As part of this Campaign, we started “Empowering Berna” project in Africa to help childless and infertile women starting their own business and thus achieve financial independence and become stronger and happier. The project has benefited more than 1,000 women across the continent.

Also, part of the campaign is our Merck Embryology & Fertility Training Program, a three-month hands-on practical course to establish the platform of fertility specialists across Africa and Asia.

Merck Foundation provided for more than 50 candidates, three months to six months clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 29 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire , Ghana, Ethiopia , Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania , Zambia , Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Burkina Fuso, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameron, Rwanda, Botswana,  DR Congo , Congo Brazzaville, Gambia , Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, and Guinea.

Merck Foundation plan supported the establishment of the first public IVF centers in Ethiopia and Uganda through providing the clinical and practical training necessary for their staff. Merck Foundation also plans to support the establishment of the first public IVF in Tanzania soon.

“Merck more than a Mother” launched in 2015, is a program of the Merck Foundation, the foundation drives many of our initiatives and programs in the area of build health care and research capacity and improves access to equitable healthcare solutions.

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