*Offer fellowship to 70 doctors from 24 African countries
By Chioma Obinna
To mark this year’s World Cancer Day themed: “I am and I will”, Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, in partnership with African First Ladies and Ministries of Health, through their Cancer Access Programme to build cancer care capacity and increase the limited number of Oncologists across the continent are training 70 African doctors from 24 countries as oncologists and first multidisciplinary cancer care teams in their countries.
These doctors would be provided with by One-, two- and three-years fellowship, master degree, and Diploma programmes.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, the Foundation will also be making history in Africa by training the first African oncologists and cancer care teams in The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Liberia, Guinea Conakry, Central African Republic, Chad, and Niger.
Senator Rasha Kelej, who is also the Most Influential African 2019 / 2020 and African Woman of The Year 2020 said: “We at Merck Foundation strive to make the African healthcare professionals highly competent and fully independent by providing the best in class multidisciplinary oncology and cancer care training to young doctors from all over Africa.
“I am proud of our success to reshape and advance the public cancer care sector and to increase the limited number of oncologists by more than 70 new oncologists to be the first in 24 countries.
“And to form a Multidisciplinary Oncology Care teams in many countries consist of; Medical, Surgery, Pediatrics, Gynaecology, Radiation Oncologists, Nursing, Pathologist and Radiology Technician.”
She said their key objective was to provide quality and equitable care to patients who never had anyone to care for them before.
“We are committed to lead Africa to a better future by transforming the landscape of Cancer care in the continent. We will soon scale up and strengthen our efforts and activities in more countries across Africa”, Rasha Kelej.
Speaking, the First Lady of Burundi, Madam Angeline Ndayishimiye expressed satisfaction being a part of the partnership.
According to her, “Merck Foundation is providing speciality training to the first-ever oncologist from Burundi. We will be enrolling more doctors in the upcoming batches in various specialities of Oncology, with the aim to establish a skilled team, able to improve access to quality and equitable cancer care in the country.
“I appreciate the unique efforts of the Merck Foundation in this regard, this is the first time we receive this kind of support which help us to have our own specialists.”
Also, the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Mrs Auxillia Mnangagwa emphasized that Merck Foundation was going to provide the valuable speciality oncology training to young Zimbabwean doctors.
“We are very excited about it as it will empower healthcare professionals in our country with advanced training and medical expertise in overall oncology care. This will help the people of our country to fight this deadly disease”.
Launched in 2016, the Merck Cancer Access Program provides One-, two- and three-years fellowship, master degree, and Diploma programs for African doctors in India, Egypt, Kenya, and Malaysia. Merck Foundation also recently introduced two years online PG Diploma in Cancer and Clinical Oncology from the UK.
Merck Foundation through its Merck Cancer Access Program has till date trained more than 70 Oncologists from 24 countries (in addition to 10 doctors undergoing the training) which are: Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinee, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.