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Merck Foundation Reaffirms Commitment to Improve Cancer Care in Africa

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By Eric Ojo, Abuja

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany, a leading science and technology company in the healthcare sector, has reaffirmed its commitment to improving service delivery to cancer patients in Africa.

The Foundation aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology, with particular focus on underserved communities.

It also engages in building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth.

The Foundation is currently partnering with Egypt’s National Cancer Institute to provide Master Degree in Medical Oncology for African doctors. This initiative is a part of Merck Foundation’s ‘Merck Cancer Access Programme’ which was primarily initiated to increase the limited number of oncologists across Africa.

By supporting Africa through its partnership with Egypt, the Foundation hopes to also build the Cancer Care Capacity in the African continent. Through this partnership, it aims to provide two-year Medical Oncology Master Degree program for African doctors.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Merck Foundation, Dr. Rasha Kelej, who gave the assurance in a statement made available to Metro Daily, said the Foundation is fully committed to improving patient’s access to care.

“We are pleased to announce our partnership with the National Cancer Institute, Egypt, which is considered as the benchmark of Cancer Care in Northern Africa and Middle East. We are committed to improve patient’s access to care”, he said.

Dr. Kelej disclosed that 5 students from Ghana, Namibia, Liberia and Rwanda, are already registered with the Master Degree programme in Medical Oncology under Merck Cancer Access Programme.

“We plan to expand this programme to more African countries like, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Uganda and Kenya. We believe that our partnership in Egypt will go a long way and together we can play a vital role in Africa.

“I strongly believe that building capacity by having trained Oncologists in each African countries is pivotal, since lack of professional skills is the key challenge in Africa and developing countries”, he further explained.

While commending the programme, the Vice Dean of Egypt National Cancer Institute, Prof. Abdel-Rahman Zekri, observed that the collaboration in the field of academics will effectively enhance the capabilities to prevent, detect and treat the rising cases of cancer in these countries.
“We are pleased to announce our partnership with Merck Foundation to support in building cancer care capacity in rest of African countries”, he added.

Also in his remarks, the Dean of the institute, Prof. Dr. Hatem Ahmed Aboulkassem, noted that the partnership will be very beneficial to the continent because it is a aimed at addressing the major constraints in the sector.
“The scarcity of trained healthcare personnel capable of tackling prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer is a bigger challenge, and therefore, this partnership will prove to be very beneficial for many African countries”, he added.

Apart from the Merck Cancer Access Programme, the Foundation has also initiated other activities in partnership with academia, ministries of health and the offices of First Ladies in more than 35 countries:

For instance, the Merck More Than A Mother which assisted more than 84 candidates to undergo three-month hands-on training to be embryologists and fertility specialists from 29 countries to improve quality, regulated and safe fertility care in developing countries.

The Foundation equally organizes the Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards. This is also targeted at ensuring that over 56 medical postgraduates will receive a one-year online diploma in diabetes or preventive cardiovascular medicines, as part of the effort to establish a platform of diabetes and hypertension experts in Africa and Asia.

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FCT doctors hail Minister for paying arrears, seek reviews

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The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter, have commended the Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, for paying the backlog of doctors’ arrears.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja on Saturday, Dr Roland Aigbovo, President of the Chapter, said that the action of the minister was commendable as he had kept to his promise.

Aigboyo however used the opportunity to appeal to the Minister to also remember the stagnation of doctors who have long be due for promotion but were yet to be promoted.

He stressed that some doctors have been stagnated for over three years while others due for promotion have remained on the same level for two years.

He added that some of the promotions that had been done were done wrongly as some of the doctors were promoted to the same level that they were already on.

He explained that some doctors were wrongly placed and the wrong placement was corrected and they were skipped and placed on the next level, only to now also be promoted to the same level that they were skipped to.

“They were promoted to the same grade level they were skipped to.

“For example, a doctor on grade level 12 was skipped to grade level 13 by correction of the error and was then again promoted to grade level 13.

“The arrears paid was for skipping, which is the correction of the wrong placement,” he said.

On the issue of budgets for hospitals, the President of fthe association appealed to the minister to budget for each hospital according to their needs and to separate the budgets of each individual hospital.

“We also appeal to the minister to make provision of each hospital to have their budget and not a blanket budget because every hospital has different running cost,” he said.

He appealed for more training for residents, non-residents as well as for other departments in the hospitals.

“Presently, only four departments are involved in residency training which include family medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Surgery and ophthalmology.

“We want more depts to included like internal medicine, paediatric, radiology and psychiatry,” he said.

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Optometrists mourn former world council President Udom

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Eye screening

Eye screening

The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) on Thursday mourned the death of former President of the World Council of Optometry (WCO), Dr Uduak Udom.

Udom reportedly died on Monday in Uyo at the age of 63 after a protracted illness.

The association, in a statement, in Abuja said that Udom was a notable and outstanding member of the global Optometry family.

It noted that Udom made significant contributions to the development of optometry in Nigeria and worldwide.

“Significantly, until her demise she was the immediate past President of the World Council of Optometry (WCO), former President, Women Optometrists in Nigeria (WON), among others,” the body said.

Udom graduated from University of Benin in 1978.

NOA said it had opened a condolence register at its secretariat in Abuja.

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Scientist claims local remedy for diabetes

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Scientist claims local remedy for diabetes

Scientist claims local remedy for diabetes

Prof. Chukwunonso Ejike, a researcher at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi,
says he has developed a local remedy for diabetes mellitus.

He made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday on the sidelines of the ongoing
Technology and Innovation Expo 2019 holding in Enugu.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired,
resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Organised yearly by Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to encourage interaction among researchers, inventors, innovators
and investors, the Science and Technology Expo is to largely commercialise research results from the country’s tertiary institutions.

The theme for the 2019 expo is “Science, Technology and Innovation for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth.”

Ejike said that the remedy product known as the VOG Tea was one of six products exhibited by the university at the Expo,
invented in 2018 after four years of intensive research.

The don, who is the Dean, Basic Medical Sciences in the institution, said that the tea was produced from three
culinary vegetables, noting that the process of patenting the product had already begun and would soon be in the market.

He added that “I thank the university authority for supporting every effort so far made to develop and produce the tea.

“I want to appeal to investors to partner with us to get it to the market place at the minimum best price.”

The researcher said that Nigerian scholars had the capacity to compete with their peers in developed economies,
adding that to achieve this, however, they needed to be funded.

He added that he was motivated to go into the research due to increasing incidences of diabetes mellitus in the country,
especially in urban areas.

He said “our interest in developing this tea was to find out how to help our people manage diabetes mellitus.

“We thought of local remedies that could be cheap and identified these vegetables. We did clinical tests and collected
data on the vegetables and confirmed that making tea from the vegetables could be of great benefit to sufferers of diabetes mellitus.

“Constant consumption of the tea will ensure that the glucose concentration will not overshoot the normal level.”

The dean said that the product would also help people at risk of getting diabetes.

He said that the usage of the VOG Tea by those at risk would ensure that they never developped it.

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