There'll Be Future Pandemics...We Need To Prepare - Rebecca Akufo-Addo's Message To Africa

COVID 19, had had an “unthinkable toll on our lives” and it has been realized the world over that the health systems were simply not ready for a pandemic of such magnitude. We all know this is by no means the last pandemic. There will be future pandemics and we have to be prepared" urged H.E. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Ghana's First Lady and an ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother.

The First Lady was speaking at the opening ceremony of Merck Foundation's 8th Africa Asia Luminary which was held via zoom on Tuesday, 27th April 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The annual conference was on the theme: “Together we can make a Difference”

Over 32, 000 participants including First Ladies of various African countries converged online to discuss strategies and solutions for equitable healthcare solutions as well as define interventions to break the stigma around infertility and to support girl education as Ambassadors of "Merck Foundation More Than a Mother" campaign.

Despite the pandemic, Rebecca Akufo-Addo indicated that the country has been able to provide specialty training for more than 60 healthcare providers in the fields of Cancer, Diabetes, cardiology, endocrinology, respiratory, acute medicines, sexual and reproductive medicines, Fertility and embryology.

This according to her, "will contribute to our battle against coronavirus and other diseases".

"I am very proud that we are also going to expand this program to cover more specialties, that rarely exists in Ghana such as Psychological Therapies, Orthopedic Trauma Science, Paediatric, Emergency Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Dermatology, Neonatal Medicine, Pain Management, Psychiatry, Urology, Rheumatology, Internal Medicine, Pain Management and more" she averred.

First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo further indicated that "we are also working closely on ‘Educating Linda’ program to inspire girls and sensitize communities about the importance of girl education. Through this program, we sponsored 20 highly performing girl students to be able to complete their school education. We are delighted to extend our participation to execute the TV program “Because I want to be” through Educating Linda program with the aim to, firstly to reduce the dropout rate for adolescent girls and make sure they stay on in school till after SHS and secondly to provide employable skills to adolescent girls who cannot go back to school.

As Merck More than a Mother Ambassador, I would like to acknowledge Merck Foundation’s great commitment and support to build healthcare capacity and raise awareness and break the stigma around infertile women in Ghana and across Africa through many initiatives such as Health Media training, Media Recognition Awards, Fashion and Film awards, and storybooks.”

Dr Rasha Kelej's remark

The Chairman for the Conference, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation also intimated that over “1100 doctors from 42 countries have benefited from Merck Foundation scholarship in the above fields, and more will join in the next few years to benefit from more scholarships in more specialties such as Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Mental Health, Orthopedic Trauma, Paediatric, Emergency Medicine, Dermatology, Neonatal Medicine, Pain Management, Psychiatry, Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Ophthalmology, Urology, Trauma and orthopedics.

She appreciated the efforts and sacrifices of “our everyday heroes, our medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic, and we will celebrate our joint achievements and your dedicated contribution to ensure our programs have a significant impact in your countries”.

About ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ campaign

‘Merck More Than A Mother’ initiative aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education, and health and by changing mindsets. This powerful initiative supports government in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe, and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about Infertility, prevention, and management. In partnership with academia, ministries of health and international fertility societies, the initiative also provides medical education and training for healthcare providers and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

‘Merck More Than A Mother’, has initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: by improving awareness, training the skills of local experts, building advocacy in cooperation with decision-makers, and supporting childless women in starting their own small business. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.