Invest in specialty training for health practitioners— African leaders told
The eighth Merck Foundation Africa, Asia Luminary opened yesterday with a call on African leaders to invest in specialty training among health practitioners to better contain emerging health threats.
Senator Dr Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation who made the call said, the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramification on the health sector should serve as a wake-up for governments to “provide the necessary training to establish a strong platform of experts in many important and critical specialties to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare”.
About 5000 participants comprising First Ladies of 17 African countries and African Ministers of different sectors from more than 25 countries have converged for the three-day luminary being held via video conference.
This year’s edition, held in partnership with the government of Zambia, focuses on discussing strategies and solutions for health challenges in African countries with the aim of contributing to improved access to quality and equitable healthcare services while building capacity in many critical and underserved medical fields.
Senator Kelej outlined efforts by Merck in the last four year’s to bridge the human resource gap in the continents health sector to include offering scholarship to more than 1,100 doctors from 42 countries in underserved medical fields like Diabetes, cardiovascular, endocrinology, Cancer, Fertility Care, Women Health, Sexual and Reproductive care, Respiratory Medicines, and Acute Medicine.
She said in coming years, the Foundation will focus training on specialties including Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Mental Health, Orthopedic Trauma, Paediatric, Emergency Medicine, Dermatology, Neonatal Medicine, Pain Management, Psychiatry, Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Ophthalmology, Urology, Trauma and orthopedics.
“Merck Foundation underscores our long-term commitment to build healthcare capacity in more countries and with more partners, will work closely with all of you to realize our vision and lead the world to a better future,” she pledged.
Delivering the Inaugural speech, President of Zambia, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, charged African leaders to prioritise building healthcare capacity to “keep the African population healthy and active.”
He called for stronger political will and strategic partnerships to improve health outcomes and the wellbeing of citizens.
“To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is urgent need for innovative, dynamic and purposeful partnership. It is only through effective coordination of collective efforts that we can achieve goals,” President Lungu, said.
First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, in a remark, recounted the toll COVID-19 has had on human activities in the country and the healthcare industry.
“We all know this is by no means the last pandemic. There will be future pandemics and we have to be prepared. Among other things we need to build robust health systems,” she said.
Mrs Akufo-Addo thus commended Merck Foundation for its partnership with Ghana to train more healthcare professionals.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH