Merck has announced five winners of the first ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’. Entries from Kenya, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Uganda and Ethiopia emerged winners under the category of ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’.
Other four winners from Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia and Zimbabwe won ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’.
Congratulating winners, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board and Family Board of E. Merck KG said at the 2nd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that “Merck will work together with UNESCO to empower young researchers which raises the level of scientific research in Africa and encourages in particular young women researchers to pursue their dreams, work for improving access to health solutions and make a difference in the continent. Moreover, I am very pleased to offer my support to motivate female researchers & healthcare providers and recognizes their excellent contribution to fields where they are underrepresented”.
“Merck will provide the winners with training and mentorship opportunity to advance their capacity and helps bring them to the international standard. The winner of MARS Research awards will be appointed as Merck Ambassadors of Empowering Women and Girls in STEM in their own countries through several future initiatives will be announced in 2017” explained Rasha Kelej Chief Social Officer, Merck.
The awardees who are final PhD students and young investigators based at African research institutes and universities were selected based on the abstracts they submitted which were impressive and related to Infectious Diseases with the aim to improve Women Health, which was the focus of UNESCO-MARS 2016.
In her introductory remarks, Dr Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare highlighted: “This is the second UNESCO-MARS we are holding after the successful one held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2015. Merck is committed to empowering women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) which will consequently contribute to improving the quality of research and science in Africa. ”
“Merck’s support for Women in research and healthcare specially in the field of oncology where they are currently under-represented will help bridge the gender gap in STEM in Africa. Merck have provided earlier this year Oncology fellowship program to African women doctors from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania. Not only that we have also supported women cancer survivors through access to information, awareness about prevention and early detection, health and economic empowerment through Merck more than a a patient initiative which focuses mainly on Cancer in women and its social misperception and stigma” Rasha Kelej added.
“Moreover the 1st award winner Patricia Rantshabeng from Botswana for her study on cancer in women and it relation to infectious diseases, this is aligned with our objectives to empower women in both fields of research and oncology to improve women health” Rasha Kelej explained.