Burundi: Merck Foundation Partnership with First Lady Creates Intense Impact.


Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, recently conducted their annual conference, the 9th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary”. The conference was inaugurated by Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary, and Madam Angeline Ndayishimiye, The First Lady of Burundi & Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” along with African First Ladies of Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Zambia, Angola, and Central Africa.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “Our long-term partnership with my dear sister, HE. Madam Angeline Ndayishimiye, The First Lady of Burundi & Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” started in 2020 and we have achieved a lot in a very short time since then.

We had a long meeting during the 9th edition of our Luminary to discuss our joint programs and strategy and report its impact and we will meet soon in Burundi to follow up on our impact and ongoing programs together in the country. I am proud to share that we have provided 51 scholarships to our local doctors in critical and underserved specialties such as Diabetes, Endocrinology, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Oncology, Fertility & Embryology, Sexual & Reproductive care, Acute care, and Respiratory care. I am looking forward to transforming patient care in Burundi through our long-term partnership.”

Madam Angeline Ndayishimiye, emphasized, “Our partnership started in 2020 and I have already seen the impact of Merck Foundation programs in my country, in a very short span.

l am proud to share that we have established the first public IVF center in our country and Merck Foundation has provided training for Fertility Specialists, Embryologists, and also technicians, who are the first local experts in Burundi. It is indeed history in the making, the first IVF center, the first local specialists, and for the first time, infertile couples are getting treatment and medical advice in their home country.

I am also very happy to initiate Merck Foundation’s important program “Educating Linda” through which we sponsor the education of 20 best-performing girls in their secondary schools every year. This is a very important initiative to empower our girls in education. On day 2 of the Luminary, the Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative-MFFLI committee meeting was also conducted between The First Ladies and Merck Foundation Chairman and CEO. During the MFFLI committee meeting, the future strategy of 2023 was discussed and the impact of their partnership programs since 2020, was announced. “I enjoyed our reading session of Children’s storybooks created by Merck Foundation, “Jacqueline’s Rescue’ – to focus on the importance of Girl Education and highlight the immoral practices of society including child marriage & dowry system; and ‘A Ride Into The Future’ – to emphasize on the importance of empowering girls through education. It was my favorite part of the MFFLI committee, I hope we keep doing this every year,” Senator Rasha Kelei emphasized.

Together with Burundi First Lady, Merck Foundation has provided 51 scholarships to local doctors in Burundi in critical and underserved specialties so far. 10 scholarships have been provided to doctors in Fertility and Embryology, and 2 scholarships for 1 year PG Diploma and 2-year master’s degree in Sexual and Reproductive Medicine. This has contributed and will continue to contribute towards breaking the infertility stigma and empowering infertile women through access to information, education, and a change of mindset.

Three scholarships have also been provided for PG Diploma in Acute Medicine and Respiratory Medicine, and 1 scholarship has been provided in oncology which has provided Burundi with the first oncologist.

Moreover, 35 scholarships have been provided for the Diabetes Master course and PG Diplomas in Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine. For the Diabetes Master course in French and English, one young doctor from each province in Burundi has been enrolled. After completion, these Doctors can establish diabetes clinics in their respective Health centers or Hospitals to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities. This has provided Burundi with its very first diabetes center in Burundi which has been established by one of the graduates of the Merck Foundation Master course. “Our vision is that everyone can lead a healthy and happy life. For 10 years this has been true in our mission to build healthcare capacity, transform the patient care landscape, break infertility stigma, empower women, and support girl education. Through our partnership with the First Lady of Burundi along with the Ministry of Health and Communications of Burundi, we can impact the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Burundi and beyond, leading them to a better future”, said Senator, Dr Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation in partnership with The Burundi First Lady has also initiated the “Educating Linda” Program, which is very important for Burundi girls as through this program, scholarships are provided to 20 underprivileged but brilliant girls to continue their education till they graduate. Additionally, Merck Foundation distributed 3000 essential school item sets to school-going girls to support them.

Moreover, Merck Foundation together with The First Lady of Burundi and The Ministry of Education launched seven children’s storybooks titled: “David’s Story” to emphasize and strengthen family values of love and respect from an early age, “Educating FIFI” to emphasize on the importance of empowering girls through education, “Make the Right Choice” to raise awareness about coronavirus prevention amongst children and youth, “Jackline’s Rescue” to emphasize on the importance of empowering girls through education, “Not Who You Are” to teach boys to love and respect their future wives and eliminate domestic violence, “Ride into the Future” to emphasize on the importance of empowering girls through education and “Sugar-free Jude” to promote a healthy lifestyle and raise awareness on the early detection and prevention of Diabetes. 50,000 copies of these storybooks have been distributed to school students in Burundi.

Merck Foundation also announced the Call for applications for their 8 important awards in partnership with The First Lady of Burundi for Media Musicians, Fashion Designers, Filmmakers, students, and new potential talents in these fields. Merck Foundation is transforming the Patient care landscape and making history together with its partners in Africa, Asia, and beyond, through: – 1580 + Scholarships provided by Merck Foundation for doctors from 50 Countries in 36 critical and underserved medical specialties. Merck Foundation is also creating a culture shift and breaking the silence about a wide range of social and health issues in Africa and underserved communities through 2500+ Media Persons from more than 50 countries trained to better raise Awareness about different social and health issues, eight Different Awards Launched annually for best media coverage, fashion designers, films, and songs, Around 30 songs to address health and social issues by local singers across Africa, eight Children’s Storybooks in three languages, English, French, and Portuguese.

Don African TV Dream and social issues by local singers, Pan African TV Program “Our Africa by Merck Foundation” addressing, Social and Health Issues in Africa through “Fashion and ART with Purpose” Community, 1000+ Girls from 15 African countries, supported through scholarships or school items, annually.

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