Africa: Merck Supports Free Diabetes Screening For More Than 19,000 Community Members in Africa and India on World Diabetes Day

Merck logo200 for pubOn the occasion of World Diabetes Day (WDD), Merck is conducting Diabetes awareness camps in India, Kenya and Ghana in collaboration with Maharashtra University and Government in India and with Kenya Ministry of health, Diabetes Management and Information center (DMI) and National Diabetes Association of Ghana.

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Merck (, The world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company, has rolled out today its Diabetes awareness and prevention campaign in collaboration with Universities of health sciences, Ministries of health and Diabetes patients associations in Africa and India in order to improve diabetes awareness and community health level.

On the occasion of World Diabetes Day, Merck, the German pharmaceutical and Chemical Company has played a great role to improve access to better diabetes care through supporting Diabetes awareness at 15 medical colleges in Maharashtra and several locations in both Kenya,Ghana and Uganda, aiming to screen and educate more than 19,000 community members across Asia and Africa. Dubbed ‘Get Informed- Get Active- Get Healthier’, the campaign aims to reverse this worrying trend by preventing or delaying the development of diabetes.

This great initiative is part of Merck Diabetes Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) which has been launched in 2012 with a target to reach 30000 community members with free diabetes screening and education by end of 2018. The Merck Diabetes CAP has reached 23000 community members by 2014, which exceeds their initial target for this period.

Dr. Stefan Oschmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Pharma said: “By partnering with universities, Ministries of Health, patients associations and local research institutes , we hope to quickly achieve our objective of advancing healthcare capacities and contributing to social and economic development of Africa and Asia. Our goal is to improve the healthcare sector in those continents through educating and empowering those affected by diabetes on how to manage and prevent it.”

Rasha Kelej, Vice President, Head of Global Business Responsibility and Market Development of Merck Serono said at their awareness campaign in India “This is only a start, more awareness campaigns and outreach programs in cooperation with Academia and Ministries of Health will be supported by Merck as part of our long term commitment to the social and economic development of Africa, Asia and Latin America in the near future”.

She emphasized “We are pleased to join Ministries of Health and Universities to celebrate the World Diabetes Day (WDD) focusing on “Healthy Living and Diabetes” in order to improve access to better Diabetes. Supporting Diabetes education and Diabetes community outreach programs of Academia will contribute significantly to improving awareness, early diagnosis and prevention of the disease across developing countries and underserved population”.

The Cabinet Secretary of Kenya Ministry of Health James Macharia has applauded Merck for its Capacity Advancement Program that was launched successfully in 2012 in Kenya. “The Ministry of Health is supporting private public partnership with reputable companies like Merck to promote key health guidelines and raise awareness about diabetes so that people learn how to prevent it” .he added.

After the successful Merck Diabetes CME tour in 10 medical and pharmacy colleges, in 8 universities in 7 Sub-Saharan countries which just ended on the 7th of November in University of Ghana, this initiative is a natural evolution of the education program for medical and pharmacy students who will be the future healthcare providers. “It is time to focus on community and support the universities outreach programs and Patents association’s activities”.  Kelej added on the celebration event of WDD.

Macharia emphasized “The cost of managing diabetes is enormous and places a huge burden on already strained healthcare system. The lack of awareness on disease symptoms makes many diabetes patients to be diagnosed late when they have already developed complications such as blindness, foot ulcers or gangrene, heart diseases among others”.

Merck has provided the necessary support to conduct Diabetes free screening and education to each of the 15 medical colleges in Maharashtra University during the week of the WDD to raise awareness about diabetes and empower community members on how to better manage and prevent the disease. Aiming to screen more than 15,000 person across the state.

While in both Kenya and Ghana Merck supported 4000 free diabetes screening on the same day and they are aiming to triple this number in 2015

Dr Pravin Shingare, Director of Medical Education and Research, Government of Maharashtra, India emphasized “The cost of managing diabetes is enormous and places a huge burden on already strained healthcare system. The lack of awareness on disease symptoms makes many diabetes patients to be diagnosed late when they have already developed complications such as blindness, foot ulcers or gangrene, heart diseases among others. There is a strong, new argument that by combining screening to find pre-diabetes and early diabetes, along with management aimed to keep glucose levels as close to normal as possible, we can change the natural history of the disease and improve the lives of our patients. Hence, I urge all Indians to get screened and be active in order to get healthier”.

Merck plays a great role in building healthcare capacity in Africa with special focus on diabetes and chronic diseases.

“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, diagnosis and management of diabetes at all levels of the health care systems. It was clear for us from the start that if not addressed as a matter of urgency, diabetes, will soon threaten the economic viability of Africa. And sadly, many people who survive HIV and AIDS may die of diabetes” Kelej added

The 5 year program was kicked off in India last month and has been implemented successfully in 7 sub- Saharan countries which are Kenya, Uganda, Namibia Angola, Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique and will further expand to other Sub-Saharan and Asian countries in 2014.

As part of the Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP), by end of 2015, more than 3,000 medical students from the Maharashtra University of Health sciences will benefit from European-accredited clinical diabetes and chronic diseases management training, which is seeking to equip them with skills to avert the diabetes epidemic. Merck is planning to target more than 12,000 students and 60,000 community members by the end of 2018 expanding to more African and Asian countries.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Merck KGaA.