MeRck Cancer Access Program

 
This program is part of Merck’s commitment to improve patient’s access to care all over the world. It consists of three initiatives to enhance cancer care on all relevant levels:

• Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building additional capacity by medical education and training.

• Merck More Than a Patient empowers female cancer survivors to reclaim their lives by reintegration into society.

• Merck Community Awareness shares accurate cancer information to help in tackling myths, misconception and stigma through medical camps and social media

The Merck Cancer Access Program builds medical capacity, supports the implementation and development of specialized healthcare solutions and is augmented by community awareness campaigns to contribute to the reduction of cancer incidences and improve survival rates.

The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.
 
Through partnering with Academia and ministries of health, Merck Foundation is providing one, two and three year oncology fellowship programs to increase the limited number of oncologists and improve access to quality cancer care in Africa and developing countries

Merck Foundation Alumni



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Dr. Nihad Salifu, Ghana
Paediatric Medical Oncology


Ghana
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“Ghana has a population of about 26 million with a cancer rate of 109 per 100,000 people and yet there is no single trained medical oncologist in the whole country. The duty of medical oncologist is handled by other specialties such as radiation oncologist, general surgeons, genitourinary surgeons, and haematologists among others. This makes the care of patients very difficult because these doctors are not formally trained in medical oncology,” says Nihad Salifu. 

 “In addition, there are only three paediatric oncologists in the whole country and our cancer cure rate is very low in children- it is about 20% when cure rates are approaching 80% in many developed parts of the world,” adds Salifu. 

Salifu, who is one of the first candidates of the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program says: “This huge human resource deficit in childhood cancer care is the main motivating factor for my applying to be considered for this training. I will benefit from this great opportunity being given to our country by Merck. The Merck Fellowship Program will definitely add to the few paediatric oncologists in Ghana; ease the workload and improve quality of patient care; add to the number of voices advocating for these patients and to the number of trainers of health workers delivering services including awareness creation; and also strengthen the team effort in the area of research and improving the paediatric cancer registry.”
 

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Dr. Christina V. Malichewe, Tanzania
Adult Medical Oncology


Tanzania
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“Cancer is a growing concern in Tanzania. Limited facilities and few healthcare providers against the high rising number of patients diagnosed at advanced stages pose a great challenge to a developing country like Tanzania. Unfortunately there are only two medical oncologists in a country of approximately 50 million people. One studied in Italy and another in China. We need more specialized oncologists in this field. Thank you Merck for starting this program!!However, it is only through unique opportunities such as the Merck Africa Fellowship Program we can make needed change in our societies so as to improve patient access to cancer care,” Christina Malichewe said. 

“I am thankful and proud to be among the young doctors from Tanzania to attend the Merck Africa Medical Oncology Program which I believe after completion will further help in imparting knowledge to others and increasing the access to cancer care in the larger Tanzanian population,” Christina added. 
Christina is interested in learning more on the treatment of gastro intestinal malignancies. “I know a lot is changing on the management and in our country there is little interest on this area in terms of screening, management and research among the oncologists compared to cervical, breast and Kaposis sarcoma cancers”.


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Dr. Abdulkadir M, Ethiopia
Paediatric Medical Oncology

Ethiopia
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Dr Abdulkadir explained “I am a faculty member of Addis Ababa University working at Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital department of pediatrics and child health hemato-oncology unit. I am general pediatrician serving kids suffering with cancer with no additional formal training in pediatric oncology. Merck Africa Fellowship Program will help me to update and upgrade my knowledge and skill in Paediatric oncology. This helps me to give appropriate and improved quality of care to cancer patients and helps me to expand the service.”
 
This training helps children with cancer to get quality and timely care. It helps to upgrade the current level of care that they currently getting and improve the outcome with improved survival.
 

“Ethiopia is a country with approximately 100 million population. Currently the country has three oncologists that serve the stated population. As I am faculty in the university it will help the country to improve training program in by strengthening and expanding Paediatric oncology fellowship program. This will increase the number of pediatric oncologists and improve access for kids with cancer to get timely improved and appropriate care” he added.

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Dr Alemayehu Natnael, Ethiopia
Adult Medical Oncology

Ethiopia
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Dr Natnael said “Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program is a Golden path to tackle the growing challenge posed by Cancer in Africa. I was delighted to know about and to be part of the fellowship program on oncology that Merck Foundation is planning to give. By completing this fellowship program, I feel that I will not only further my career, but I will also be an asset for the future expansion of Hawassa Oncology Center”.
 
“My people are also in great need of specialists like this to address their sufferings. For your surprise, there is no oncologist, even a single one in southern part of Ethiopia with an estimated population of 18 million. For that matter, there are only 3 oncologists in Ethiopia for about 100 million population.” He added

Dr Natnael explained “Cancer care is not only about the expensive resources it is also about a trained healthcare personnel capable of addressing prevention, early diagnosis, & treatment and able to provide palliative care to cancer patients. So human resource capacity building is a core in tackling the burden posed by cancer. On this regard Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship program already took the lion share in my country and the rest of Africa in general. “


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Dr Kabisa Mwala, Zambia
Surgical Oncology

Zambia
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Dr Kabisa introduced himself” I am a general surgeon deeply interested in Surgical Oncology because of my passion to help patents ravaged by cancer especially women with breast cancer. I have been participating in running a breast diagnostic clinic at our only Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) for the past 3 (three) years now, with the last one year being run actively by myself. The offered surgical oncology fellowship position at Tata Memorial Hospital through the sponsorship of Merck Foundation will enhance my knowledge and skills in the field of surgical oncology to contribute better in managing patients seeking cancer care at our institution. Our Country has been training surgeons for some time now, but no specific surgical oncology training is available yet”.
 
“This opportunity of training will greatly help in improving the oncological services currently being offered at CDH, contribute to in-house training for other surgeons interested in the field of oncology and participate in local and collaborative research in order to improve service delivery to cancer patients.  As such, the country as a whole will benefit from this much-needed skill and knowledge I will gain from this training to be undertaken soon”.  He added.
 


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Dr. Magdalene Kuria, Kenya
Paediatric Medical Oncology

Kenya
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Dr. Magdalene Kuria emphasized “As a paediatrician working in a rural hospital I encounter many oncology patients who are too poor to get treatment in the cancer centers in big towns like Nairobi.  Merck Africa Oncology fellowship will build my capacity to manage them at the nearest facility with no need for referral”.
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