Friday, 9 March 2018

Merck Foundation Partners First Lady of Niger in Launch of Mark Foundation

Rebecca Ejifoma
Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive
Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation
 Board of Trustees, Her Excellency, the First Lady of
Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou
and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation

Merck has launched its Foundation in Niger in partnership with the First Lady of Niger and their Ministry of Health builds healthcare capacity  in the country with special focus on cancer, diabetes and infertility.

During the launch, Merck Foundation, a non-profit organisation and a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany, marked ‘International women’s Day’ in Niger to empower infertile women through ‘Merck More Than a Mother' campaign.

The Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, said: “We are very proud to launch our Merck Foundation in partnership with the First Lady of Niger and Ministry of Health to build healthcare capacity, improve access to Cancer and Diabetes care and to empower infertile women in the country.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kelej, expressed that the appointment of the President’s wife of Niger, Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou, as an ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign, was a welcomed idea. “She will work closely with Merck Foundation in defining interventions to break the stigma around childless women across the country.”

In line with the World International Women’s, he assured that through their partnership, they would transform the lives of those unprivileged women, and women who suffered all their lives from the infertility stigma.

Reacting to her appointment, Aissata said: “I truly value our partnership with Merck Foundation. I firmly believe that building professional capacity is a good strategy to help our government improve access to healthcare in our country.”

She further pledged to work closely with the foundation to break the stigma around infertility at all levels by raising awareness, training the skills of local experts and by supporting childless women in starting their small businesses.

In her words: “Currently, we don't have any oncologist or fertility specialists in Niger. We even do not have cancer care facility and fertility clinic in the country. Merck Foundation makes history in the Niger, through its 'Merck Oncology Fellowship Program' and 'Merck More Than a Mother'. They will provide training to the first oncologists and fertility specialists for Niger.”

“As per the information received from the Ministry of Health, for 22 Million population, Niger has only six oncologists, one hematologist, and 12 radiotherapists. This gap is not enough to give proper access to quality and equitable cancer care across the country. We hope we can significantly increase the number of oncologists in the next three years,” Kelej added.

Indeed, Merck foundation is committed to providing one to two years Oncology Fellowship Programmes and Clinical Fertility Management Training to four candidates from Niger this year and is determined to provide training to more candidates in the future.

Moreover, the Foundation says it is committed to contributing toward advancing Diabetes Care in Niger, by providing online Diabetes Management Diploma in the French language, for medical postgraduates in Niger and other Francophone African countries, so that they can learn more about diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. The course is accredited by 'Royal College of General Practitioners' in the UK.

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