By: Emelia Naa Ayeley Aryee/Freelance Journalist

Twenty-five First Ladies of Africa have teamed up to pledge their support in building the capacity of healthcare providers on the continent and in Asia and beyond.

These noble women have further deepened their interest in breaking infertility stigma and ensuring that it soon becomes a thing of the past.

This came to the fore at the 10th Africa Asia Luminary Session by Merck Foundation, which took place in India on October 18, 2023.

The event was held both online and in-person, and in attendance were 11 First Ladies, and Ministers of various sectors from 25 African countries.

In an address, the CEO of Merck Foundation, Dr. Senator Rasha Kelej, took pride in the achievements chalked her outfit so far, particularly in the health sector in connection with women and children.

She noted among other things that Merck Foundation has built the capacity of young doctors from 50 countries in 42 critical fields of fertility care, urology, embryology, diabetes, endocrinology, cardiovascular, pediatric emergency, rheumatology, gastroenterology, clinical psychiatry, sexual and reproductive medicine, and ophthalmology.

Some beneficiary countries include Burundi, Liberia, The Gambia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Guinea and Ethiopia, Congo and a lot more, Dr. Senator Kelej revealed.

Merck Foundation, through its many activities and initiatives, has also championed the course of ending child marriage, promoting girl education, creating awareness on the need to end harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), gender-based violence (GBV), diabetes and hypertension, among others.

At the event, an educative animation film that addresses diabetes prevention and early detection in Africa, titled “Sugar-Free Jude” was played to the audience, reminding them of their roles in that regard.

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“The Sugar-Free Jude animation film is a huge step of ours towards using art and creativity to address different sensitive health and social issues in Africa,” Dr. Kelej said, and called on all participants to share the film on their platforms in order for a lot more people to see.

She charged the First Ladies to continue the fight in their respective countries and Africa at large toward creating a safer society for women and girls.

The Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, who also doubles as Executive Board of E. Merck KG, disclosed how refreshing it is for him to learn that the Foundation has made strides in delivering its core mandates of supporting the populace in issues relating to health.

“I am very proud that Merck Foundation has been an outstanding and significant contributor towards transforming the patient care landscape in many countries across Africa, Asia, and beyond since 2012,” he stated.

He believes that Merck Foundation’s effort in improving healthcare delivery in Africa, Asia, and beyond, has enhanced economic growth, social stability, and individual prosperity on these continents.

Dr. Stangenberg-Haverkamp reiterated Merck Foundation’s commitment to bring quality health care delivery to all persons.

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