GHANA — Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, has been recognized with the prestigious “Best Health Sector Philanthropy of the year 2023” award at the Ghana Philanthropy Awards, hosted by The Business Executive, a prominent Pan African media entity.
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation and a prominent figure in the list of “100 Most Influential Africans” from 2019 to 2022, expressed her deep gratitude for this honor, emphasizing the foundation’s dedication to advancing healthcare capabilities and patient care across Africa and beyond.
In her acceptance speech, Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej lauded the recognition, stating, “We are incredibly honored to receive the Ghana Philanthropy Award for the ‘Best in Health Sector’ from Business Executive.
This award is a testament to our efforts and commitment over the past 11 years, aimed at advancing healthcare capacity and transforming patient care in Africa and beyond.”
She further highlighted Merck Foundation’s remarkable achievement of providing over 1690 scholarships to young doctors from 50 countries, specializing in 39 critical and underserved medical disciplines.
Pioneering medical training
Merck Foundation’s historic impact in Africa is exemplified by its groundbreaking work in training the first cohort of Fertility specialists, Embryologists, Oncologists, and Diabetes experts.
Other trained specialties include Endocrinologists, Respiratory specialists, and more in countries such as Liberia, The Gambia, Burundi, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These initiatives are part of a collaborative effort with partners including Africa’s First Ladies and Ministries of Health, Gender, Education, and Communication, aiming to transform the lives of individuals in disadvantaged communities.
The 2nd Edition of the Ghana Philanthropy Awards, held on September 1, 2023, in Accra, Ghana, centered around the theme “Social Responsibility as a Means of ensuring Inclusiveness in Socio-Economic Growth and Development.”
Merck Foundation’s recognition underscores its role as a catalyst for positive change in healthcare across Africa and Asia.
Fostering medical excellence
Merck Foundation has played a pivotal role in nurturing medical excellence by providing scholarships to doctors across Asia and Africa, encompassing one, two, and three-year fellowships, diploma programs, and master’s courses in 39 critical medical specialties.
These include Oncology, Diabetes, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Respiratory Medicine, Acute Medicine, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Embryology, and Critical Care.
It also includes Psychiatry, General Surgery, Dermatology, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Gastroenterology, Neuroimaging for Research, Pain Management, Rheumatology, Neonatal Medicine, and more.
In addition to its educational efforts, Merck Foundation has harnessed the power of entertainment to raise awareness about Diabetes Prevention and Early Detection with the release of the first-ever Diabetes Animation Movie.
Available in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, this movie presents essential information in an engaging and informative manner.
Music and Media for Social Change:
Recognizing the influence of music and media in shaping cultural perspectives, Merck Foundation has produced over 30 songs in English, French, Portuguese, and local languages.
These songs address critical issues at the heart of the foundation’s mission. A notable example is the song “NO More Diabetes,” a multilingual remix aimed at promoting diabetes prevention and management through lifestyle modifications.
Merck Foundation’s commitment to driving change extends to multimedia initiatives such as the Pan African TV Program “Our Africa.”
Conceptualized, produced, directed, and hosted by Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, this program addresses social and health issues, including diabetes, hypertension, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles through fashion and art.
Raising awareness and breaking stigmas
Beyond healthcare, Merck Foundation has introduced innovative approaches to raise awareness about health issues, including diabetes and hypertension prevention, early detection, and management.
It has also played a significant role in addressing critical social issues such as breaking infertility stigmas, supporting girl education, empowering women, ending FGM and child marriage, and combating gender-based violence.
Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized the pivotal role of media and art in amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and raising awareness of pressing issues.
The foundation has conducted Merck Foundation Media Training programs and Awards for media professionals and artists, training over 3000 representatives from over 35 countries. These individuals are contributing to a cultural shift by advocating for social and health causes.
In collaboration with African First Ladies, Merck Foundation has introduced eight significant awards categories for media, fashion designers, filmmakers, musicians, and singers.
These awards focus on themes that include breaking infertility stigmas, supporting girls’ education, ending child marriage and FGM, empowering women, and promoting healthy lifestyles while raising awareness about diabetes and hypertension prevention and early detection.
Nurturing young minds
Merck Foundation has also released eight captivating children’s storybooks, available in English, French, and Portuguese. These storybooks serve as tools to instill early awareness of social and health issues, fostering empathy, understanding, and informed decision-making among young minds.
The impact of Merck Foundation’s tireless efforts resonates across Africa and beyond, shaping a brighter, healthier future through education, awareness, and social change.
“I would again like to thank The Business Executive team for recognizing the efforts of Merck Foundation. I would also like to congratulate all the organization that were awarded during the Award ceremony,” concluded Senator Kelej.