Merck Foundation seeks to improve cancer care in Africa

Written By: Rose Welimo

Cancer Merck

Merck Foundation says there is need for improvement in infrastructure and increase in the number of specialized workforce, to improve cancer care in Sub-Saharan African countries.

BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), and the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC), released a white paper in June 2017on the African continent’s emerging cancer crisis.

The report cites that over 20% of African countries have no access to cancer treatments at all, while access is limited and sporadic in other countries.

Later-stage diagnosis in African patients contributes to poorer outcomes. In the report, 5-year female breast cancer relative survival rates are 46% in Uganda and 12% in The Gambia, compared with around 90% in developed countries.

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Merck Foundation started their second stage of their Africa Oncology Fellowship Program that started in 2016 with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa.

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Prof. Frank Stangenberg- Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board and chairman of Board of Trustees of Merck Foundation says enrolling more candidates from more African countries into our Fellowship Program, is an important step forward towards improving access to cancer care across the continent.

In partnership with Ministries of Health across Africa, the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program provides one-year and two-year oncology fellowship programs and a three year master degree in medical oncology at Tata Memorial Centre, India, University of Nairobi, Kenya and Alexandria University, Egypt, respectively.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized “One of the main objectives of Merck Foundation is to build a strong platform of qualified medical, pediatric and surgical oncologists across the continent through the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program”.

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“Twenty candidates from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Tanzania and Kenya have enrolled in the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program in partnership with African ministries of health, the University of Nairobi, Kenya, Tata Memorial Centre, India and Alexandria University, Egypt. We are very proud of our contribution to lead Africa to a better future through changing the landscape of Cancer care in the continent.” Rasha Kelej added.

Launched in 2016, with the aim to increase the limited number of qualified oncologists in the continent, 3 medical doctors from Sub-Saharan African countries Kenya, and South Africa were granted a two-year Africa medical oncology fellowship training at the University of Nairobi.

In addition, Merck Foundation supported another two African doctors from Ghana and Tanzania for the Paediatric and Adult Medical Fellowship program that is conducted annually at Tata Memorial Centre, India.

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“We will continue to enroll more candidates and engage other countries on this program as we firmly believe this is a vital component of improving the quality and accessibility of cancer care in Africa,” added Rasha Kelej.

The inaugural Merck Africa Asia Luminary, holding 24 – 25 October 2017 in Cairo, Egypt, will feature a workshop dedicated exclusively to improve access to cancer care through Capacity building through Merck Foundation,

It will convene key players from the global, regional and local cancer network, health ministers, First ladies, with the goal of encouraging dialogue among stakeholders, raise awareness of the issues, explore partnership opportunities to generate ideas for potential solutions to existing challenges.



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