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Foundation tasks African first ladies on infertility stigma, girl child education

Merck Foundation has enjoined African first ladies to continue to spearhead efforts to break down infertility stigma and ensure quality education for the girl child.…

Merck Foundation has enjoined African first ladies to continue to spearhead efforts to break down infertility stigma and ensure quality education for the girl child.

The chairman of both the Executive Board of E. Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Prof. Frank  Stangenberg-Haverkamp, gave the advice during the 10th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary which was held virtually and in India.

Over 6,000 participants from more than 70 countries participated in the hybrid conference.

Stangenberg-Haverkamp said raising educated girls means stronger women, stronger families, and communities hence stronger and wealthier countries.

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He said educated girls become women who know their rights and duties, and become more than mothers whether they have children or not.

He said, “I am happy that Your Excellences, are all very interested in this programme, to support girl education in your countries and the rest of Africa through  providing scholarship grants for brilliant but underprivileged girls to continue their education so that they can reach their full potential and fulfil their dreams and become more than mothers.”

He said the foundation would continue to work closely with the African first ladies in full capacity, to overcome healthcare and social challenges in their countries.

Also speaking, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, said the foundation made a significant impact in the last six years by building healthcare and media capacity, breaking infertility stigma, empowering women – childless women in particular – supporting girl education and raising awareness on a wide range of social and health issues.

She said the foundation has provided more than 1,700 scholarships to young doctors from 50 countries in 42 critical and underserved specialties such as; diabetes, endocrinology, oncology, cardiovascular, fertility care, embryology, sexual and reproductive medicine, internal medicine, respiratory medicine, acute medicine, critical care, paediatric emergency, and gastroenterology.

Others include rheumatology, clinical psychiatry, urology, ophthalmology, general surgery, trauma and orthopaedic, dermatology, neonatal care, pain management, emergency and resuscitation, laparoscopic surgical skills,  clinical microbiology and infectious diseases, advanced surgical practice, and neuroimaging for research among others.

She said, “We are making history and legacy in Africa by training the first fertility specialists, embryologists, oncologists, diabetes, endocrinology, respiratory experts and more in many countries.

“Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, ministries of health, gender, education and communication, academia and medical societies, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa, Asia and beyond.”

She said the foundation has provided 138 scholarships to doctors from 28 countries for oncology training, adding that most of the scholarships were provided in India through its partners.

While saying that the foundation is working hard to raise awareness on a wide range of sensitive and critical social and health issues, she said eight important awards for media, fashion designers, filmmakers and singers, songs, children’s storybooks and animation movies were also presented.

She said educating girls offers numerous benefits to a country’s development and progress.

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