Merck Foundation CEO shares the partnership journey with CAR First Lady 2016 to 2023 – Empower Women, Support Infertile Women & Train Healthcare Providers

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central Africa & Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother”
  • Merck Foundation CEO and CAR First Lady meet during 9th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2022 to approve their future strategy and announce their impact report and call for action to build healthcare capacity and empower women & girls in CAR.
  • Merck Foundation is transforming the Patient care landscape and making history together with CAR First lady and other partners in Africa, Asia, and beyond. 

Watch the partnership journey:

Watch the overview of the 2-day Hybrid 9th Edition of the Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2022 here: 

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 H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central Africa & Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” along with African First Ladies of Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Zambia, and Angola.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “Our long-term partnership with my dear sister, H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central Africa & Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” started in 2016, and we have come a long way since then. We have supported many infertile women through “Empowering Berna” by establishing small business for them so that they could lead an independent and fulfilling life.

I am proud to share that together we have provided 5 scholarships to local doctors from CAR in Oncology and Diabetes. I am looking forward to transforming patient care in Burundi through our long-term partnership.”

H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central Africa & Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” emphasized, “Our partnership started in 2016 and Merck Foundation programs have made a huge impact in my country.

I greatly value our partnership with Merck Foundation that is since 2016, to support us to advance and build the healthcare capacity in our country. 5 scholarships have been provided to our doctors by Merck Foundation so far in Oncology and Diabetes.

We also launched “Empowering Berna” program together through which we established small businesses for infertile and childless women and trained them to run their businesses so they can have income and become independent and have purposeful life. The life of the beneficiary women has completely transformed.

I am also very happy to initiate Merck Foundation’s important program “Educating Linda” through which we will be providing scholarships to 20 under-privileged schoolgirls from our country to support girl education. This is a very important initiative to empower our girls in education.”

Watch the video of The First Lady of Central Africa & Ambassador of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” during the Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2022 here: 

Together with The Central Africa First Lady, Merck Foundation has provided 5 scholarships to local doctors in Central Africa in critical and underserved specialties like Oncology and Diabetes. After completion, these Doctors can establish Diabetes and Oncology care clinics in their respective Health centers or Hospitals with the aim to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities.

“Our vision is that everyone can lead healthy and happy life. For 10 years this has been true in our mission to build healthcare capacity, transform patient care landscape, break infertility stigma, empower women and support girl education. Through our partnership with First Lady of Central Africa along with Ministry of Health and Communications of Central Africa, we can impact the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Central Africa and beyond, leading them to a better future”, said Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation in partnership with The Central Africa First Lady has also initiated “Educating Linda” Program, which is very important for Central Africa 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 items sets to school-going girls to support them.

Moreover, Merck Foundation together with The First Lady of Central Africa 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 WANDARA” 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. 30,000 copies of these storybooks have been distributed to school students of Central Africa and more 1,000 copies to be distributed soon.

English | French | Portuguese

English | French Portuguese

English | French Portuguese

English | French | Portuguese

English | French | Portuguese 

English | French Portuguese

English French | Portuguese

Merck Foundation also announced the Call for applications for their 8 important awards in partnership with The First Lady of Central Africa for Media, Musicians, Fashion Designers, Filmmakers, students, and new potential talents in these fields.

The 9th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2022 was streamed live on the social media handles of Merck Foundationand Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Link to the Facebook live steam of Inaugural Session of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary & African First Ladies High Level Panel:

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
  • 8 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
  • 8 Children’s Storybooks in three languages – English, French, and Portuguese
  • 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.
  • 9 Social Media Channels with more than 5 Million Followers.

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About Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit to read more. Follow the social media of Merck Foundation: FacebookTwitter, InstagramYouTube and Flickr.

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