Merck, a leading science and technology company, has announced the expansion of its “Best Student Award” program to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Central University College.
For the past three years, the company has selected three students from the University of Ghana’s School of Pharmacy to participate in a month-long internship at its headquarters in Darmstadt (Germany), where they receive practical training in pharmaceutical and life sciences before specializing in their respective fields. The program is part of Merck’s commitment to supporting healthy families, healthy communities and healthy economies in Ghana, where it opened an office in 2014.
This year’s Best Student Award recipients from the University of Ghana – Adomah Opoku-Achaempong, Yvonne Darko and Emelia Priscilla Imbeah – completed their internship in July.
“In extending the Best Student Award program to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Central University College, we are strengthening our university partnerships in Ghana and helping to shape tomorrow’s great scientific minds,” said.
Kai Beckmann, member of the Executive Board of Merck. “These exemplary students represent our next-generation employees, partners and customers on the continent.”
“The Best Student Award program has been invaluable for our student participants,” said Alexander K. Nyarko, Professor and Dean of the School of Pharmacy at University of Ghana. “The internship allowed the students to develop their understanding of pharmaceutical and life sciences and gain practical skills, directly helping to inform their choice of specialized fields.”
Advancing sustainable health solutions
Merck also announced the availability of a new online tool for assessing diabetes risk. Individuals who utilize the Merck Diabetes Online Risk Assessment (Merck DORA), available at www.diabetes.merck-africa.com, can confirm their status with a free blood sugar test at the pharmacy of their choice, as indicated online. The company hopes this program, which is also rolling out in Kenya, will increase awareness of the disease and referrals to local healthcare professionals in Ghana.
Fighting counterfeit medicines
In another effort to improve sustainable access to high-quality health solutions for underserved populations in Ghana, Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF) presented a third Minilab™ to the Center for Pharmaceutical Advancement & Training (CePAT). The Minilabs™, test kits used to detect substandard and counterfeit medicines, are developed and distributed by the Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF), a charitable organization funded by Merck. To date, GPHF has supplied more than 700 minilabs worldwide; 27 of these mobile compact laboratories are currently in use in Ghana. The handover to CePAT is part of a larger partnership between GPHF and CePAT to increase access to safe medicines and build local capacity in pharmaceutical quality assurance. Furthermore, Merck donated a Minilab™ to Ghana’s Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.
Other Merck programs contributing to healthy families, communities and economies in-country include Water for Health and the WASH Window – Football for Water Project. Water for Health is a new initiative leveraging Merck technologies and expertise to develop water technology interventions in underserved regions. The initiative, to be co-financed by the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), is piloting in the Brong-Ahafo region, where Vitens Evides International (VEI) and the Ghana Water Company Ltd., are working with the company to provide access to safe drinking water for a community of 9,000 people. The WASH Window – Football for Water Project – also in partnership with VEI, along with the Royal Netherlands Football Association, the Professional Footballers Association of Ghana, ProNet and the Ghanaian Ministry of Education – aims to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and behaviours in 100 schools by linking hygiene to sport.
“Water for Health aims to improve drinking water quality in Brong-Ahafo region through analytical testing, infrastructure improvements and awareness programs,” said Udit Batra, President and CEO of Merck’s life science business. “This initiative is part of our larger goal of accelerating access to healthcare for people everywhere.”
Merck’s presence in Africa began in 1897, as part of international expansion. The company, which will celebrate its 350th anniversary in 2018, has been delivering healthcare services across the continent ever since. Merck, within the scope of its responsible corporate governance, is committed to improving access to health for underserved populations in low-and middle-income countries. Health, along with environment and culture, represent Merck’s strategic spheres of activities that are part of the company’s Corporate Responsibility strategy.
Merck has delivered healthcare services in Africa since 1897. With a population rising faster than in any other global market and a growing middle class, the company is increasingly tapping into the continent’s innovative spirit to create health awareness and help respond to unmet medical needs. The Group’s Executive Board is visiting 10 African countries this week to underscore its commitment and rising importance of the continent. Among others, Merck seeks to start local production diabetes treatment Glucophage in Algeria, inaugurate an office in Nigeria and start the sale of its Muse® Auto CD4/CD4% System to detect HIV.