First Lady calls for robust health systems to deal with future pandemics

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First Lady Akufo-Addo joined the celebration virtually

First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo has noted that the novel coronavirus pandemic is by no means the last pandemic to hit the world. She has therefore called for preparations to deal with future pandemics when they hit.

“Among other things, we need to build robust health systems,” she said.

The First Lady was speaking yesterday at the 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary when she made the comment. The occasion was also meant to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Merck Foundation.

She noted that with the likelihood of another pandemic hitting the world in the future, investment by Merck Foundation to train healthcare professionals in Ghana is worth commending.

Partnership

She disclosed that the Merck Foundation, as part of measures to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic, had partnered with the Rebecca Foundation to give critical training to more than 60 healthcare providers.

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The providers received training in the fields of cancer, diabetes, cardiology, endocrinology, respiratory and acute medicines, sexual and reproductive medicines, fertility and embryology.

She explained that out of the number, 12 doctors have completed one year diploma in diabetes; 11 in cardiovascular preventive medicines, while five have concluded a one-year online endocrinology programme.

Two doctors have also graduated from an oncology fellowship and one is undergoing a masters’ degree in medical oncology.

Additionally, seven candidates have undergone a three-month embryology course, with four more enrolled in masters programmes.

“In direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, Merck Foundation is also training some of our doctors in respiratory and acute medicines,” the First Lady said.

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She further disclosed that very soon the partnership will cover areas such as psychological therapies, orthopedic trauma science, paediatric, emergency medicine and advanced surgical practice. Additional areas to be covered are dermatology, neonatal medicine, pain management, psychiatry, urology, rheumatology, internal medicine and pain management.

Mrs Akufo-Addo added that the Rebecca Foundation, together with Merck Foundation, was able to launch an inspiring storybook, “Make The Right Choice. Stay at Home”, during the pandemic.

“We also successfully implemented ‘the Stay at home, Media Recognition Awards’. This helped to raise awareness on how to stay physically and mentally healthy during these unsettling times. We look forward to the ‘Mask up with care Media Recognition Awards’, to continue to sentisize our communities,” she said.

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“Last year, the Merck Foundation partnered the Rebecca Foundation to produce our TV programme, ‘Because I want to be’. This is a television mentoring programme to encourage adolescent girls to stay in school. I am happy to announce that Merck Foundation has extended their support for another year.

“We are also working with Merck Foundation on the ‘Educating Linda’ programme and have sponsored twenty high performing girls in their education,” she added.

She expressed gratitude to Merck Foundation for its commitment to supporting healthcare systems, women and girls in Ghana and Africa.

She also commended the group for broadening the discussions on infertility by organising competitions in fashion, film and journalism.

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