Merck Foundation established to improve the health and well-being of people

  • Rasha Kelej appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Merck Foundation


Merck has announced the launch of the Merck Foundation - a new philanthropic organization which aims to improve the health and well-being of people and advance their lives through science and technology in developing countries and underserved communities.

Watch the below video about the Merck Foundation

A world where everyone can lead healthy and fulfilling lives

Through this foundation, Merck combines many of its corporate responsibility activities under one roof and considerably expands its scope to address health, social and economic challenges of the 21st century.

"The vision of the new foundation is a world where everyone can lead a healthy and fulfilling life, also those living under disadvantaged conditions," said Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the new foundation. "With the Merck Foundation we will continue our commitment towards improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and advancing people's lives through science and technology."

"I am very proud to be appointed as the CEO of Merck Foundation and will work together with all of you to realize our vision for a world where everyone can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. The Merck Foundation will focus on initiatives that will contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations. To achieve the foundation's goals, we will develop and implement coherent strategies, result-oriented programs and initiatives, provide grants to support projects and help raise funds where needed," said Rasha Kelej, who has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Merck Foundation. Kelej (45) joined Merck in 1996, working exclusively in positions relevant to Corporate Responsibility and Market Development with a strong focus on Africa and developing countries.

The Merck Foundation is a non-profit limited liability company (gemeinnutzige Gesellschaft mit beschrankter Haftung / gGmbH). A Board of Trustees, chaired by Stangenberg-Haverkamp, will advise and monitor the foundation's performance. Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck, and Belen Garijo, member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Healthcare, are also members of the Board of Trustees.

About Merck Foundation Vision, Mission and Programs:

Merck Foundation will work together with all of its partners to realize their vision for a world where everyone can lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

The Foundation is primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), with a special focus on women and youth.

Together with its partners, Merck Foundation supports programs that:

  • raise awareness of disease prevention and early detection through access to information, health and change of mind-set

  • expand professional capabilities in scientific research, technology and healthcare

  • improve access to innovative and equitable healthcare solutions

  • build advocacy to address health, social and economic challenges

  • empower women and youth in STEM


Merck Foundation has developed many successful programs under the Merck Foundation roof such as:

Merck more than a Mother to empower infertile women through access to information, health and change of mind-set.

Merck Cancer Access Program to establish a platform of medical and clinical oncologists for Africa

Merck Capacity Advancement Program and Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards.

Merck STEM program to empower women and youth in STEM, and other programs which you can read about in our website www.merck-foundation.com

Merck Foundation together with its partners will touch people lives and make a difference every day.

"We know we can make a greater difference in people's lives when working together with others. The basis of our work is long-term partnerships with local governments, academia, regional and global associations, research institutions, NGOs, patient societies and communities to advance people’s lives through access to health, science and technology, and change of mind-set. Merck Foundation together with its partners will touch people lives and make a difference every day." added Rasha Kelej.

In collaboration with its partners, the Merck Foundation supports and implements carefully structured programs, including:

Merck more than a Mother

Together we create a culture shift to empower infertile women

Watch the below videos on Merck More than a Mother' initiatives

Merck More Than a Mother - The new life of Jackline Mwende, a victim of infertility stigma

Merck More Than a Mother - Merck Africa Embryology Training Program in India

In some cultures, childless women still suffer discrimination, stigma and ostracism. An inability to have a child or to become pregnant can result in being greatly isolated, disinherited or assaulted. This often results in divorce or physical and psychological violence. "Merck more than a Mother" initiative aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and health and by changing mind-sets.

This powerful initiative supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It addresses the need for interventions to break the stigma around infertile women. In partnership with academia and international fertility societies, the initiative also provides medical education and training for healthcare providers and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries. With "Merck More than a mother", we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels. By improving awareness, training the skills of local experts, building advocacy in cooperation with decision makers and by supporting childless women in starting their own small business. It is all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.

Merck Cancer Access Program

Together we fight cancer

Watch the below videos of "Merck Cancer Access Program" initiatives

Merck Cancer Access Program - Merck Africa Medical Oncology Fellowship Program, India

Watch testimonies of Medical Students from Asia on the benefits of Merck Capacity Advancement Program

This program is part of Merck’s commitment to improve patient’s access to care all over the world. It consists of three initiatives to enhance cancer care on all relevant levels:

  • Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building additional capacity by medical education and training.

  • Merck more than a Patient empowers female cancer survivors to reclaim their lives by reintegration into society.

  • Merck Community Awareness shares accurate cancer information to help in tackling myths, misconception and stigma through medical camps and social media


The Merck Cancer Access Program builds medical capacity, supports the implementation and development of specialized healthcare solutions and is augmented by community awareness campaigns to contribute to the reduction of cancer incidences and improve survival rates. In Africa, the lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.

The Merck Foundation aims to significantly increase the number of qualified oncologists across the continent. By partnering with top global oncology experts, African universities and ministries of health across the continent, in providing one, two and three year oncology fellowship programs, more students and healthcare providers can be educated and trained in prevention, early detection and management of cancer.

Merck Capacity Advancement program

Together we advance people's lives

Watch the videos of Medical students' testimonies on the Merck Capacity Advancement Program

Watch testimonies of students from Africa on the benefits of the Merck Capacity Advancement Program

Watch testimonies of Medical Students from Asia on the benefits of Merck Capacity Advancement Program

The Merck Capacity Advancement Program aims to improve access to better diabetes, cancer, hypertension and fertility therapies in under-served regions. By educating and training medical students and healthcare providers from the start, we strengthen the local capacities and enhance clinical management processes. The goal is to raise awareness for these health conditions as well as to support healthcare systems with the measures to prevent, diagnose and manage them effectively. Within the last years, we have successfully cooperated with universities in several different regions around the globe. By the end of 2016, more than 20,000 medical undergraduates and postgraduates in partnership with African and Asian universities benefited from the Clinical Chronic Diseases Management Training Program, seeking to equip them with skills to better manage and prevent these diseases.

The Merck Foundation is planning to target more than 25,000 students by the end of 2018 expanding to more African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries with special focus on non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, cancer and fertility management.

Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards

Together we develop the experts of tomorrow

Watch testimonies of medical students on the importance of Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards

Merck Diabetes & Hypertension Awards 2016-Tanzania-Africa

Merck Diabetes & Hypertension Awards 2016-Uganda- Africa

Merck has also launched the Merck Diabetes Hypertension Awards in more than 30 African and Asian universities with the aim to build a platform of diabetes and hypertension experts across the globe as part of the Merck Capacity Advancement Program and our commitment to building healthcare capacity and improving access to quality and sustainable healthcare solutions in developing countries.

Medical students are invited to apply for the "Merck Diabetes Awards" and "Merck Hypertension Awards" by submitting concept papers under the themes of "Every Day is a Diabetes Day "and "What the Healthy Heart Needs" respectively. These are reviewed by a scientific committee and winners per award, from each university, are granted a one year postgraduate Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine or Diabetes Diploma at the University of South Wales, United Kingdom. The Foundation will extend the Merck Diabetes and Hypertension Awards to more countries to establish a platform of diabetes and hypertension experts in developing countries.

Merck STEM Program

Together we empower women & youth in science and technology

Watch videos below on the Merck STEM Program

Merck STEM Program for Girls and Women, Liberia-Africa

UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit- MARS winners-Empowering Women and Young Researchers (short)

We believe that empowering women through education is an important factor in promoting the economic well-being of Africans. Literature reports a strong link between educating women and girls and positive outcomes for economic empowerment, social mobility and maternal health. It is also believed that women’s unemployment in a nation’s workforce is a waste of valuable human capital that has a negative impact on economic prosperity and national development

The girls who attend school and learn receive skills to improve their future livelihoods and in turn champion education for their families, communities and nation. However, the opportunities must be present and ripe for the taking. Recalling the UN slogan "Equality for Women is Progress for All" - this is a clear message around girls’ education and women empowerment.

Moreover, the Merck Foundation offers their support to motivate female researchers and healthcare providers and recognize their excellence to fields where they are underrepresented. Through its annual platform, the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit-MARS, it prepares the road for young African researchers to drive Africa’s development as an international hub for research.

Merck Community Awareness Program

Together we fight widespread diseases

Watch videos below on creating awareness on diabetes

Community Awareness Program-Diabetes Detection & Prevention Patient Education in English

Community Awareness Program - Zena Ali, Diabetes Patient

The best way to fight a disease is to prevent it. But to do so, people need to know more about their health. That is the reason why knowledge and education are essential for an efficient healthcare system. But in underserved regions, spreading information across communities is a big challenge. To reach patients and professionals with the right healthcare messages on the relevant channels, Merck has conducted several community awareness and prevention campaigns about diabetes and cancer. By partnering with decision makers from institutions and governments, ministries of health and team of interdisciplinary experts, a wide range of initiatives has been kicked off. In 2016, Merck announced a pan African initiative "Merck Africa Diabetes Day" to provide 300,000 community members with free screening and education about diabetes across the continent.

The Community Awareness Program ensures easy access to knowledge about diseases like cancer, hypertension and diabetes with educational material in a range of languages. In addition, a broad social media campaign for prevention and early detection including videos and posters amplifies the outreach of our life saving messages.

Join the conversation on our social media below

Merck Foundation:

Merck Foundation

Merckfoundation

YouTube ChannelMerckFoundation

For more information please visit www.merck-foundation.com

Merck Capacity Advancement Program:

MerckCAP

Merck Capacity Advancement Program

Merck Capacity Advancement Program

For more information please visit www.merck-cap.com

Merck Africa:

Merck Africa

@merckafrica

Merck Africa

For more information please visit www.merck-africa.com

Join Merck Foundation healthcare & research online community to exchange experience and information with other healthcare providers, researchers, students, policy makers and community members in Africa and beyond

www.merck-foundation.com free registration