13 African First Ladies present during the inauguration of the Merck Foundation 2021 conference

By Samuel Ouma

Thirteen First African Ladies graced the inauguration of the8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary conference as guests of honors.

They included Angola First Lady, H.E. Ana Dias Lourenço, Botswana First Lady, H.E. Neo Jane Masisi, Burkina Faso First Lady, H.E. Sika Kabore, Burundi First Lady, H.E. Angeline Ndayishimiye, Central African Republic First Lady, H.E. Brigitte Touadera, Democratic Republic of Congo First Lady, H.E. Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi.

Others are Ghana First Lady, H.E. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Guinea First Lady, H.E. Djènè Condé, Liberia First Lady, H.E. Clar Marie Weah, Malawi First Lady, H.E. Monica Chakwera, Mozambique First Lady, H.E. Isaura Ferrão Nyusi, Namibia First Lady, H.E. Monica Geingos and Zambia First Lady H.E. Esther Lungu.

They shared health capacity-building strategy and building a robust platform of specialized trained medical experts in their respective countries, infertility stigma and support girl’s education.

They expressed their gratitude to Merck Foundation saying their partnership with the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany has supported them in building healthcare capacity and train healthcare providers in their respective countries. Some of the successes highlighted include:

More than 37 local young Namibian doctors will be provided with one-year online diploma from South Wales University, in the fields of Diabetes, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Respiratory Medicines, Acute Medicines and Sexual and Reproductive Medicines, reiterated H.E. Monica Geingos, the First Lady of Namibia.

Mozambique has enrolled 14 doctors in the Diabetes Master Course through Merck Foundation Diabetes Blue Points Project.

Malawi has launched the winners of Merck More Than a Mother Media Recognition Awards to avert the stigma of infertility and become the voice of the voiceless and break the silence. They are also set to launch Film, Song Awards to inspire youth to be innovative.

In Ghana, more than 60 healthcare providers have been trained in fields like Cancer, Diabetes, cardiology, endocrinology, respiratory, acute medicines, sexual and reproductive medicines, Fertility and embryology.

32 Doctors have also been enrolled for the Master Course in Diabetes Management in French accredited by Diabetes UK in DRC.

“Till today we have 33 doctors who have benefited from scholarships that Merck Foundation is providing in Oncology, Fertility speciality, embryology and reproductive and sexual medicines and Diabetes management,” said  Burundi First Lady, H.E. Angeline Ndayishimiye.

Thirteen doctors have also been trained in oncology and diabetes in Central African Republic.

The first ladies noted challenges women and girls are undergoing in Africa such as physical and psychological violence, stigma of infertility, child marriage, etc.

“UN reported that nearly one in five women worldwide has experienced violence in the past year. It means that infertile and childless women are suffering even more and more physical and psychological violence and are now trapped at home with their abusers, struggling to access services, they are lonely suffering in silence,” said Namibia First Lady, H.E. Monica Geingos

They committed to empower infertile women through access to education, information, health, change of mindset, and economic support.

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