Message from CEO of Merck Foundation, Senator, Rasha Kelej, on the successful partnership with the First Lady of Botswana that has unlocked specialized training opportunities for 35 local doctors; strengthening healthcare capacity and COVID 19 response in the country


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I am proud and delighted to work closely with H.E. Mrs. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana, our long term partner, to advance healthcare capacity and improve access to equitable and quality healthcare solutions, which has proven to be very critical for Botswana and Africa, especially during this difficult time of COVID -19 pandemic.

As a response to COVID 19 pandemic, together with the First Lady of Botswana, and the Ministry of  Health, Merck Foundation adopted an online medical education strategy by providing 35 doctors from Botswana with a one-year online diploma and two-year online master degree in many specialties such as: Respiratory Medicines and Acute medicines, Diabetes, Cardiology, Endocrinology, and Sexual and Reproductive Medicines.

I am delighted to announce the success of our first pilot project of Merck Foundation Diabetes Blue Points Program that was introduced with the aim to improve access to equitable and quality diabetes care nationwide by providing a One-year online Post Graduate Diploma in Diabetes Management from the University of South Wales. 7 doctors from different districts have already graduated from the one-year Diabetes Diploma, out of which 2 candidates have been further enrolled in the one-year master’s degree course. In addition to this, 9 candidates have been enrolled in the online Diabetes Master course accredited by Diabetes UK. These doctors will be able to establish a diabetes clinic in their Health Centre or Hospital with the aim to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities.


Watch The First Lady of Botswana, H. E. NEO JANE MASISI in conversation at Merck Foundation First Ladies - VC Summit 2020

Considering the limited number of Gynecologists across Botswana, together, we enrolled 7 doctors to One Year Online Post Graduate Diploma and two-year master's degree in Sexual and Reproductive Medicine from the University of South Wales, UK. This program will significantly improve women’s health, in particular, reproductive health in Botswana.

Moreover, 2 Doctors were enrolled this year to One Year Online Post Graduate Diploma in Endocrinology & Preventive Cardiovascular medicines whereas, 6 Doctors were enrolled to One Year Online Post Graduate Diploma in Respiratory Medicines & One Year Online Post Graduate Diploma in Acute Medicine with the aim to advance their skills to better manage coronavirus patients and risk groups in the country.

The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of investing in improving access to equitable and quality healthcare, which is  Merck Foundation’s strategy since 2012, even before the pandemic started. At Merck Foundation, we are committed to enroll more doctors for these courses to be able to build a platform of medical experts in underserved communities. We believe these online courses is the right strategy to scale up our efforts to improve access to quality healthcare solutions widely and effectively especially during Coronavirus lockdown.

I am looking forward to continuing our long-term partnership and continue to provide medical training to doctors from Botswana in various medical specialties with the aim to build a strong medical army across Africa and the global South.

Together, we can lead Africa to a better future.

Kind Regards,

Dr. Rasha Kelej,
CEO of Merck Foundation
President - Merck More Than A Mother
One of the 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020)




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