The 8th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary kicked off today via zoom on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, with Liberian First Lady Ambassador Clar Marie Weah extolling her great partnership with the foundation.
Merck Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany.
Mrs. Weah said the foundation continues to boost the Liberian government's efforts in enhancing the capacity of the country's health sector through intensive training and other interventions to meet the health needs of its citizens.
Addressing the High level First Ladies Panel via zoom, Ambassador Weah disclosed that more than 35 Liberian Doctors are undergoing specialty training to earn Diplomas and Master degrees in many critical areas.
The areas include Diabetes, Cardiovascular, Sexual and Reproductive Medicines, Endocrinology, Respiratory and Acute Medicines, Oncology and Fertility Specialists and Embryology.
"Liberia again, is making history and I am proud to be that conduit to make this happen through the Merck Foundation," Mrs. Weah asserted as she thanked Merck Foundation for the great support to Liberia.
"I truly appreciate our partnership with Merck Foundation and acknowledge their smart and serious strategies to provide specialty training for our local doctors, even before this global crisis, so that they can provide the quality healthcare required by our people in the near future."
She further revealed that seven additional Liberian doctors were being enrolled in the One-year Merck Foundation Oncology Fellowship Program in India or Egypt, to study Medical Oncology, Surgical Oncology and Radiation, Gynecology, Medical and Pediatric Oncology and Pathology.
When trained, the doctors will be Liberia's first Oncologists, forming the first Cancer Care Team in the country.
First Lady Weah described the move as 'an amazing achievement that will transform the landscape of cancer care in the next few years'.
Commenting on other interventions by Merck Foundation, Mrs. Weah recounted support during the height of the covid19 outbreak in Liberia which enabled the provision of livelihood support to the less fortunate, especially physically challenged persons.
The Liberian First Lady also spoke about the launching "Make the Right Choice," an inspiring book to raise awareness about the Corona Virus and how to stay safe and healthy physically and mentally during these unsettling times while promoting honesty, loyalty and hard work as one of Merck's initiatives.
The training of over 100 media practitioners on media ethics for reporting sensitive issues like infertility; commitment to support 20 girl students under the 'Educating Linda' program and the provision of over 30-thousand copies of the 'Educating Miatta' storybook among others are notable interventions by Merck Foundation.
Mrs. Weah reaffirmed her commitment to the partnership Merck Foundation while urging counterparts across the continent to take advantage of the partnership for the benefit of their respective countries.
Speaking earlier, Merck Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej expressed heartfelt appreciation to the 17 African First Ladies in attendance, renewing her institution's commitment to work with them.
"Together, we will discuss our strategy to build healthcare capacity and establish a strong platform of specialized trained medical experts to be the first in their counties and to define interventions to break infertility stigma and support girl education," said Dr. Kelej.
This year's event, which also marks Merck Foundation's 4th anniversary, is being chaired and co-chaired by the President and First Lady of the Republic of Zambia H. E. Dr. Edgar Chagwa and Esther Lungu.
More than 5,000 healthcare providers, policymakers and media practitioners from over 70 countries are expected to benefit from the three day meeting which ends April 29, 2021.