First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hosts Merck Foundation CEO, discuss training of more cancer specialists

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, hosted the Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation Dr. Rasha Kelej where they discussed the training of more oncologists and experts in diabetes and infertility management.

The First Lady said Kenya is in need of more oncologists, especially in the counties to handle the rising cases of cancer.

Merck Foundation, a US-based charity organization, supports institutions and innovative programs that are aligned with its three focus areas of health, education and the community. It’s objective is to improve health and wellbeing of people through science and technology.

The Foundation is currently working with the University of Nairobi on a 2-year oncology fellowship program in which five doctors are undergoing specialist training.

The Foundation CEO who doubles up as the President of “Merck more than a mother” programme said the training of more oncologists will ensure more cancer patients have access to specialized treatment and care.

Besides the training of cancer specialists, Dr. Kelej said her organization is ready to sponsor the capacity building of experts in diabetes management adding that several Kenyan doctors are already undertaking an online training program on diabetes with the support of Merck Foundation.

As part of the ongoing implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the Government last year brought in specialist Cuban doctors, among them experts in diabetes, in an exchange programme where several Kenyan doctors are undergoing postgraduate training in Cuba.

The First Lady and Dr. Kelej also spoke about the growing need to train more Kenyan infertility specialists saying stigma and lack of awareness are major challenges facing those affected by the medical condition.

Merck Foundation, said Dr. Kelej is working on a sponsorship package for several Kenyan doctors to attend a three-month training programme on infertility in  India.

Through “Merck more than a mother” program, the Foundation seeks to empower infertile women and break the stigma around infertility in Africa.

Recently, the Foundation held a Summit in Dubai that brought together 15 First Ladies to discuss challenges associated with infertility.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and her guest also discussed increased partnership between Merck Foundation and Beyond Zero especially in the innovative health programmes including the integrated medical safaris.

The First Lady thanked Dr. Kelej for Merck’s continued support for Beyond Zero saying her office will continue working closely with the Foundation.

Other areas of Merck’s work on Kenya an initiative dubbed  “computer laboratories for the blind program” through which the American organization supports 16 schools for the blind across the country.

The Foundation  further works with female researchers  and healthcare providers through the annual UNESCO Merck Africa Reasearch Summit with the Best African Woman Researcher Award and Best Young African Researcher Award.

Dr Kelej was accompanied to State House by Merck’s Program Director and Regional Head for Africa Saika Leonard.

Others who attended the meeting were National AIDS Control Council (NACC) CEO Dr Nduku Kilonzo and Beyond Zero Technical Advisor Jane Kiragu.