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Merck Foundation’s Partnership a Praiseworthy Contribution to Ghana’s Healthcare, Says First Lady

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Health Foundation Awards
Foundation Awards

Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, has lauded the Merck Foundation for its effective partnership and contribution towards strengthening the country’s healthcare.

“Today, we celebrate an important milestone – a culmination of a great partnership between my office and the Merck Foundation, since 2018.

The First Lady said the partnership had enabled Ghana to build healthcare capacity, transform patient care, break infertility stigma and support girl education.

Mrs Akufo-Addo was speaking at the Merck Foundation Ghana Alumni Summit and Awards Ceremony 2024 in Accra.

The programme was to recognise journalists, doctors, musicians, fashion designers and filmmakers for expanding awareness on key health and social issues in Ghana, under the community awareness programme sponsored by the Merck Foundation.

The First Lady, who is also the Ambassador for the “More Than a Mother” campaign, said Ghana could now boast of more specialists in very critical areas of medicine due to the sponsorship and the substantial contribution to enhancing access to quality healthcare solutions in many deserved specialties.

“Merck Foundation has allowed us to access new resources, knowledge, and networks.

“In the short period of nearly six years, Merck Foundation has provided 143 scholarships for local Ghanaian doctors in about 40 diverse disciplines,” Mrs Akufo-Addo said.

She said infertility had always been a taboo topic in the African context, saying with the Merck Foundation’s ‘More Than a Mother’ Ambassador Programme, Ghanaians were now being more open with infertility, seeking help and reducing stigma.

She acknowledged and thanked the Foundation on the partnership for girls’ education, citing the ‘Educating Linda’ and “Because I want to be” television mentoring programmes.

“Together, we are ensuring girls are heard, seen and empowered for a great future,” she stated.

Mrs Akufo-Addo said under the partnership, there had been several training courses for the media to help break the silence and be the voice of the voiceless on issues such as infertility and other sensitive social and health issues.

“As a lover of the arts, I am encouraged by Merck Foundation’s ‘More Than a mother’ and ‘Promoting Healthy Lifestyle’ awards for musicians, fashion designers, filmmakers, students, and potential talents in these fields.

“These awards have promoted the discussion of critical social issues and given young people the opportunity to showcase their talents,” she stated.

Mrs Akufo-Addo congratulated the Foundation for winning the “Best Health Sector Philanthropy of the Year 2023” award, at the Ghana Philanthropy Awards.

“There is no doubt about the amazing achievements of Merck Foundation, which had remarkably improved the lives of people in Ghana, all over Africa and Asia.”

Senator Dr Rasha Kelej, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Merck Foundation and President of the “More Than a Mother” campaign, commended the First Lady for her active and strong partnership over the years.

“More Than a mother campaign is actually important for African women and for me as the CEO of the Merck Foundation, because through that we empower women to have access to education and information as well as change of mindset, while ensuring economic empowerment.”

The CEO said when a woman is educated and economically empowered, she could grow to become more than just a mother.

Women should not be blamed alone for infertility as the problem could be from men as well, adding that some 85 per cent of the situation could be prevented since most of the situation could be due to untreated infectious diseases, Female Genital Mutilation, child-marriage, unsafe abortion, and unsafe child delivery, among others.

The awards ceremony saw a total of 146 Medical Doctors in 42 Specialties receiving awards, as well as journalists who were also awarded under the Merck Foundation’s Media Recognition Awards.

Ms Muniratu Akweley Issah, of the Ghana News Agency (GNA), picked two medals and certificates under the Media Recognition Awards for the year 2022 and 2023, online category.

20 other journalists, fashion designers, film makers and song writers also picked awards for various categories.

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