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Merck Foundation Underscores Their Commitment to the Increase the Limited Number of Oncologists on World Cancer Day


Nairobi, Kenya & Mumbai, Maharashtra, India:

  • Merck Foundation partners with African First Ladies and Ministries of Health to build cancer care capacity in the continent.
  • Merck Foundation makes history by training the first African oncologists in many countries.

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks ‘World Cancer Day 2020’ themed ‘I am and I will’ by their Cancer Access Program to build cancer care capacity to increase limited number of Oncologists across the continent.

“We are committed to lead Africa to a better future through shaping the landscape of Cancer care in the continent. Merck Foundation is focusing on improving access to cancer care solutions by developing a Multidisciplinary Oncology Care team in each country (like Medical, Surgery, Pediatric, Gynae, Radiation Oncologists, Radiation Technician, Nursing, Pathologist) as an integrated team approach can lead to better outcomes. I am very proud to say that we have so far trained more than 80 Oncologists from 26 countries. I am particularly very happy to share that Merck Foundation has trained first ever oncologists in countries like Gambia, Central African Republic, Liberia, Guinea Conakry, Burundi, Chad and Sierra Leone. We are making history in these countries,” emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.
The efforts of Merck Foundation are being appreciated by African presidents and First Ladies. The President of Chad, H.E. IDRISS DÉBY, President of Niger, H. E. MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Burundi, H.E. PIERRE NKURUNZIZA, President of Central African Republic, H.E. FAUSTIN-ARCHANGE TOUADÉRA have acknowledged Merck Foundation’s efforts to train their doctors to be the first oncologists in their countries so that people can find the cancer care they deserve in their home countries.
The First Lady of Liberia, H.E CLAR MARIE WEAH shared, “Merck Foundation is training the first ever oncologists from our country. Having our own cancer specialists is something we had never imagined. I deeply appreciate the efforts of Merck Foundation”.
The First Lady of Sierra Leone, H.E FATIMA MAADA BIO expressed her gratitude, “Cancer was a subject that people would only talk about secretly. Only after the death of the person we would know that he or she had cancer. And we have too many people dying of cancer. So, Merck Foundation’s program of training the cancer specialists has been a God sent program for my country. You have empowered us to talk about Cancer. Thank you for training local experts in my country.”

The First Lady of Malawi, H.E PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA shared during the Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative committee meeting, “Malawi opened its first cancer center and Merck Foundation is providing training to doctors from our country to become oncologists. I deeply appreciate the efforts of Merck Foundation for giving us our own cancer specialists.”
Merck Foundation through its Merck Cancer Access Program has trained more than 80 Oncology Care Specialists from 26 countries which are: Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinee, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
As per the data, the burden of cancer in Africa is growing with recent estimates reporting 1.06 million new cancer cases per year. This figure is expected to increase by 102% to 2.12 million by 2040.

Moreover, the mortality-incidence ratio in Africa is substantially higher than in other countries. This is since at least 80% of patients in Africa are diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage. One of the key factors that contribute to poor cancer outcomes in Africa includes limited health system infrastructure and a scarcity of oncology specialists.
Therefore, Merck foundation partnership with African First Ladies, local Governments and Academia has been the right strategy to address this pressing issue. The Merck Cancer access Program was launched in 2016 to provide One, two- and three-years fellowship and master degree programs in India, Egypt, Kenya and Malaysia.

It is an on-going initiative as the aim is to build cancer care capacity and will be scaled up to even more African and developing countries this year.

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About Merck Foundation
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flicker.
About Merck

Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 53,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2017, Merck generated sales of € 15.3 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma.

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