German pharmaceutical and chemical giant Merck has embarked on the second year of a medical initiative to improve diabetes healthcare in Africa.
Merck, which is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company, said it has started its second year of a five year project to provide clinical diabetes management course for medical and pharmacy students in African universities by introducing E-Learning.
“Merck is supporting E- Health which can definitely contribute to bringing healthcare to unserved or underserved populations. This will help in increasing the effectiveness and reducing the costs of healthcare delivery, improving the effectiveness of public health programmes and research, preventing illness and managing and treating chronic diseases,” said Dr Stefan Oschmann, Merck Pharma CEO.
He added that supporting the E- learning platform for the diabetes will improve access to innovative and high quality healthcare solution and disease awareness which will contribute significantly to the economical and social development in Africa.
In early September, Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) will kick off its second year of the program to medical and pharmacy students at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Merck will provide the same course to medical students of Makerere University, Uganda and University of Namibia.
At the end of September, the course will be offered in Portuguese by international and local professors to medical students at University Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique and Katyavala Bwila University, Angola.
In November, Merck will head to Tanzania where they will provide the course to students of Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Science before extending the same to University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.
“Using the power of mobile and internet technologies to share information via SMS or dedicated website to healthcare providers and the general public across Africa especially in rural areas will help to increase access to training, education and raise awareness on the diabetes,” noted Rasha Kelej, the head of Global Market Development and Business Responsibility of Merck Serono.
This year Merck aims to reach 2,000 students and rural healthcare providers so that ultimately they become diabetes ambassadors across Africa.
In 2015, the programme will be extended to more universities across Africa such as Nigeria and Ethiopia and in Asia such as Indonesia and India. The program aims to reach at least 9,000 students by 2018.
Diabetes is one of the rising killer diseases globally, claiming one life every eight seconds and a limb lost every 30 seconds, according to reports from World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
The challenges faced by African countries in tackling diabetes are well known ranging from poorly organized services for the care of chronic diseases, limited public awareness and lack of well-structured education programmes for patients and health professionals.
In addressing these challenges, Merck has shown consistent approach to their corporate social responsibility agenda in Africa since 2013.
In March last year, the company launched the program in Namibia after conducting stakeholders to discuss the learning gaps of medical students and healthcare professional.
“University of Nairobi is ready to support initiatives such as Merck’s Capacity Advancement Program and associate with other institutions whose overall objectives and goals are directed towards alleviating challenges in the provision of healthcare especially emerging diseases such as diabetes,” said Professor Isaac O. Kibwage, Principal of the College of Health Sciences University of Nairobi.
In February this year, Merck announced a strategic partnership with Mozambique Ministry of Health and launched the program at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. Mozambique Minister of Health, Dr. Alexander Manguele applauded Merck for their entry to Mozambique market.
In late March, the company launched an SMS diabetes awareness campaign in Uganda in partnership with Uganda Ministry of Health, the Makerere University and the Uganda Diabetes Association.
The SMS campaign will target patients and the general public, healthcare providers and medical students across Uganda with a special focus on rural areas.
Uganda Minster of State of Health, Sarah Opendi informed the gathering that sharing information via SMS to healthcare providers and the general public across Uganda especially in rural areas will help raise awareness on the issues of diabetes so that they learn to better prevent, diagnose and manage the disease.
“Merck’s initiative to utilize mobile technology in order to promote public awareness and early detection of the disease will strengthen health systems by improving their capacity to effectively prevent and control NCDs,” she added.
Merck has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Makerere University in order to establish a scientific collaboration in the research and development field. “This is part of our commitment to advancing healthcare capacity and providing sustainable access to high-quality health solutions and safe medicines in Africa,” explained Dr Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board and Chief Administration Officer of Merck.
In April, Merck launched the program in Ghana in strategic partnerships with University Of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University, Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Ghana Medical Association and Ghana National Association of Diabetes in order to contribute to the country’s social and economic development.
The President of Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana Pharm-PSGH, James Ohemeng Kyei emphasized that the PSGH is proud to participate actively in the five-year program which will improve the accessibility and capacity of diabetes healthcare in Ghana.
“The partnership with Merck to implement the Capacity Advancement Program in Ghana and to support chronic disease healthcare will help us to tackle the ever rising diabetes prevalence rate,” he noted.