The National Cancer Centre which is being constructed in Lilongwe in Malawi will soon have trained oncologists under the auspices of the Merck Foundation.
Merck Foundation is a United States-based charitable organization that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology.
Speaking in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, during a meeting with the Malawi First Lady Professor Gertrude Mutharika, Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation Dr Rasha Kellej said the organization will work with the Ministry of Health in Malawi to select and train oncologists who will work at the Cancer Centre.
This, according to Dr Kellej, is one way of addressing challenges the Malawi government is facing in treating cancer patients.
Dr Kellej said some of the doctors will be trained for one year in India, while others will under-go a two-year Masters Degree oncology course in Egypt.
“These doctors that we will train will specifically work at the National Cancer Centre in Lilongwe. Our aim is to provide skilled staff for the facility as it strives to manage cancer in the country,” said Dr Kellej.
She said her organization will work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Population to identify potential personnel for the trainings as Malawi is facing a shortage of oncologists to manage the growing number of cancer patients.
Malawi First Lady commended Merck Foundation for the timely support, saying the country does not have enough specialist cancer doctors.
“We are very grateful for the support from Merck Foundation. Human resource development is very vital in managing and eradicating problems such as cancer and as a country we are facing challenges with the various types of cancers,” said Mutharika.
“By training our health personnel, you’ll help the Malawi government save a lot of money which would’ve been used to have patients treated in India,” she disclosed.
Besides cancer, the foundation is also working to raise awareness and advocate for change of mindset on issues about infertility.
According to Dr Kellej, men and women who are not able to have children should not be discriminated against, as such a condition can be treated.
She said her foundation will also identify and train gynaecologists in Malawi to manage issues of infertility under one of its initiatives, ‘More than a Mother.’
This initiative seeks to lobby First Ladies in Africa to take a leading role in civic-educating their communities to break the cycle of discrimination on infertile couples.
The Malawi First Lady is in Dubai to attend the First Ladies conference on health and women development which is focusing on raising awareness through advocacy on the management of cancer, diabetes and infertility among men and women who cannot have children of their own.
The meeting is being attended by 15 First Ladies among them First Ladies of Zambia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Burundi and Mozambique and Malawi.