Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej

Chief Executive Officer – CEO of Merck Foundation

Member of the Egyptian Senate (2020- 2025)

One of the 100 Most Influential African Women (2019, 2020, 2021 & 2022)                 

President of “More Than a Mother” Campaign

President of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative – MFFLI

Chief Executive Officer – CEO of Merck Foundation, President of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI), Member of Egyptian Senate (2020 – 2025), President of “More Than a Mother” Campaign.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Africanً Women (2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022).

She is also the Chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit (MARS), President of Merck Foundation Alumni and Chairperson of Africa Reproductive Care Society – ARCS.

She has been awarded with the Doctorate of Letters (D.Litt) Honoris Causa by the Krishna World University for her efforts and commitment towards Women Empowerment, Girl Education and Patient care transformation in Africa and other developing nations.  

Under her leadership, Merck Foundation has been recognized as the 2022 NGO of the Year, the Most Influential NGO Shaping Africa’s Future.

Rasha Kelej was born in February 1972 in Egypt. She holds a degree in Pharmacy from Alexandria University and MBA from Robert Gordon University, Scotland. Rasha Kelej has more than 29 years of experience in the International Biopharmaceutical 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 this position, she led the development and formation of Merck Foundation; the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany as a nonprofit organization established in 2017.

However, since 2012 and before Merck Foundation formation, Rasha Kelej has developed many impactful programs such as Capacity Advancement Program, Cancer Access Program, More Than a Mother, Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI), Educating Linda program, Diabetes Blue Points Program, and STEM program for women and youth.

These programs are focused on building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care landscape through providing scholarships of training in 36 critical and underserved medical specialties in Africa and developing countries (More than 1500 scholarships were provided for doctors from 50 countries till the end of 2022).

Moreover, these programs contribute to improving access to health, information, change of mindset, empowering women and supporting girl education in Africa.

One of the most successful programs that Rasha Kelej created and presided is the historic campaign “More Than a Mother” and its innovative initiatives which aims to empower childless and infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset and economic empowerment.

Over the past five years, she worked closely with 20 African First Ladies as Ambassadors of Merck Foundation “More Than a Mother” in their countries, to break the infertility stigma, empower infertile women, and support girl education.

Some of the initiatives of “More Than a Mother” campaign 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 infertility stigma, empowering women and support girl education in their communities.

She has successfully established strong partnerships with more than 20 African First Ladies, Governments, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education, Information & Communication, Academia, Global & Local Medical Societies, Media, Art and Not for profits Organizations from 50 countries, which has contributed significantly to the success of their programs.

Rasha Kelej has conceptualized, produced, directed, and hosted a first-of-its-kind TV program “Our Africa by Merck Foundation” to be the voice of the voiceless and break the silence about a wide range of critical social and health challenges in Africa such as: Breaking Infertility Stigma, Ending Child Marriage, Supporting Girl Education, Women Empowerment, Stopping GBV, Ending FGM and Diabetes, among other social and health issues affecting the continent, through the “Fashion and Art with Purpose” Community established in 2021. The TV program has been broadcasted on TV channels in many African countries.

To know more about Rasha Kelej’s journey and Merck Foundation Legacy, visit www.merck-foundation.com

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