Merck Foundation (MF) (www.Merck-Foundation.com), a non-profit company and subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany (www.Merck.com), and the University of Malaya (UM), Malaysia’s oldest and most established institution of higher learning, signed a Memorandum of Understanding today aimed at providing fellowship training for post-graduate medical trainees from Africa and other developing countries.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by YB Datuk Dr. Mary Yap Kain Ching, Deputy Minister of Higher Education Malaysia.
Professor Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board of E-Merck KG and Chairman of Board of Trustees of Merck Foundation said, “We are delighted to partner with the University of Malaya, to provide clinical training and fellowship programmes to young healthcare practitioners from Africa and other developing countries.”
“I strongly believe that building capacity is the right strategy to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare since the lack of professional skills is a key challenge in these nations. We have successfully conducted many educational and fellowship programs in both Africa and Asia since 2012 and we will continue our long-term commitment through our Merck Foundation.”
The MF-UM collaboration formalised today will facilitate academic support to post-graduate medical trainees in the fields of diabetes, oncology and infertility.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation explained, “This partnership is essential for the sustainability of Merck Foundation programmes – especially ‘Merck Cancer Access Program’ and ‘Merck More Than A Mother’ – that serve as platforms to train oncologists and embryologists to improve access to fertility and cancer care in Africa and Asia. I personally believe through this partnership we will be able to make a significant impact on societies and scientific communities in both continents.”
YBhg. Dato’ Professor Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya said, “We possess the requisite experience. Our medical faculty has a well-established post-graduate medical training programme that has already produced an international cohort of graduates from Indonesia, India, Mauritius, and the Maldives.”
For MF, the collaboration exemplifies an effort to help improve the quality of healthcare in underserved communities around the world. The Merck Capacity Advancement Programme has benefited over 30,000 medical graduates across Africa and Asia.
In 2017 alone, MF initiated the following activities in partnership with academia, ministries of health and the offices of First Ladies in more than 35 countries:
- Merck Cancer Access Program: Over 30 African physicians received oncology fellowship programmes spanning one to two years, in a bid to help increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa.
- Merck More Than A Mother: More than 30 candidates received three-month hands-on training to be embryologists and fertility specialists in Africa and Asia to improve quality, regulated and safe fertility care in developing countries.
- Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards: Over 50 medical postgraduates will receive a one-year online diploma in diabetes or preventive cardiovascular medicines, as part of the effort to establish a platform of diabetes and hypertension experts in Africa and Asia.
The awards encouraged participants from African and Asian medical universities to propose innovative concepts for improving early detection and prevention of diabetes and hypertension in their countries. The awards featured their own themes, namely, “Every Day is a Diabetes Day” and “What the Healthy Heart Needs”.
UM post-graduate clinical masters student, Dr. Fu Mei Sian, won the Merck Diabetes Award 2017. MF will be enrolling her in a one-year online post-graduate diploma course in diabetes offered by the University of South Wales, UK.
Dr. Fu remarked, “I will also have the opportunity to apply for a study grant from Merck Malaysia on the concept paper that won the award. I hope I will be able to publish the study in the future and encourage more people to use the mobile application that is intended to help prevent diabetes complications.”
Dr. Siti Nurbaya Shahrir, who holds a doctorate in Public Health from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia won of Merck Hypertension Award 2017. She declared, “I am sure the online post-graduate diploma course in preventive cardiovascular medicine will enable me to better serve my country by developing innovative solutions to curb hypertension.”