Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej
Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation
Member of the Egyptian Senate (2020- 2025)
One of the 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020)
African Woman of the Year (2020, 2021)
President of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’
President of Merck Foundation
First Ladies Initiative Committee
Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, President of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI), Member of Egyptian Senate (2020 – 2025), President of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ and President of Merck Foundation Alumni.
Senator Rasha Kelej has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020) by the UK based New African Magazine for the poignant ‘More Than a Mother’ Movement, which has touched many hearts. She has also been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential African Women (2020, 2021). Dr. Kelej is named as one of the Most 50 Influential Women Egypt 2020, according to the Research team of Egyptian Women Forum.
Rasha Kelej has been appointed by The President of The Arab Republic of Egypt in October 2020 as a Senator at The Egyptian Senate. She is currently a member of the Egyptian Senate (2020 – 2025) and plays an important role to advise with regards to African Health, Economic and Social Sustainable Development and collaboration opportunities.
She is also the Chairperson of Merck Foundation’s annual platform, the Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary, Chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS) and Chairperson of Africa Reproductive Care Society -ARCS.
Rasha Kelej was born in February 1972 in Egypt.
She holds a degree in Pharmacy from Alexandria University and an MBA from Robert Gordon University, Scotland.
Rasha Kelej has more than 27 years of experience in International Pharmaceutical Industry and Healthcare & Social Development, having joined the industry in 1994. Rasha Kelej joined Merck in 1996 where she has undertaken many leading commercial roles in addition to serving as the Chief Social Officer and Head of the Global Social Responsibility & Market Development, SVP of Merck Healthcare from 2013 until June 2017.
In this position, she developed a structured and coherent CSR strategy and introduced programs since 2013 with the aim to build healthcare capacity, raise community awareness, break the stigma of infertility, and empower women & youth through education and STEM. This subsequently led to the development and formation of Merck Foundation; the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany as nonprofit organization established in 2017.
Rasha Kelej has developed many impactful programs such as Merck Capacity Advancement Program, Merck Cancer Access Program, Merck More Than A Mother, Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI), Educating Linda program, Merck Diabetes Blue Points Program, and Merck STEM for women and youth. These programs are focused on building healthcare capacity and improving access to health in Africa and developing countries.
One of the most successful programs that she created and presided is the historic campaign “Merck More Than a Mother” and its innovative initiatives which aims to empower childless and infertile women through access to information, health, change of mind set and economic empowerment.
She is working closely with 20 African First Ladies as Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” in their countries, to break the stigma around infertility and empower infertile women.
Some of the initiatives of “Merck More Than a Mother” include Health Media Training, Media Recognition Awards, Fashion Awards, Song Awards and Film Awards. She is also working closely with local artists to develop local songs to break the stigma of infertility in their communities. More than 20 songs have been developed so far.
She has successfully established strong partnerships with African First Ladies, Governments, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education, Information & Communication, Academia, Global & Local Societies, media, art and not for profits organizations which has contributed significantly to the success of their programs.
Rasha Kelej has received many awards for her contribution towards advancing healthcare capacity and women empowerment from African Governments & First Ladies as well as from the International Federation of Business and Professional Women – BPW-Int.
These awards recognize her contribution, through Merck Foundation, towards empowering African women in the field of Research and Healthcare and empowering underprivileged women who live with infertility in Africa and developing countries.
She has also been a member of Human Resources Science and Technology Cluster of African Union (ECOSOCC) in 2016.
Rasha Kelej has led Merck Foundation COVID -19 response in Africa in partnership with 20 African First Ladies with the focus on four major areas;
- Community Support & donations
- Online education for healthcare providers in six different fields (diabetes, cardiovascular, sexual and reproductive health, endocrinology, respiratory and acute medicines)
- Community Awareness through “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
- Community Awareness through children’s storybook “Make The Right Choice”.
Furthermore, Dr. Kelej has produced and directed an inspiring Pan-African song called ‘My White Army’, as her personal contribution to thank the doctors and nurses fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, who are risking exposure to the virus so everyone else can stay home and stay healthy. The song, featuring singers from 11 African countries in three languages Arabic, English, and French, has been well appreciated across the continent.