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Home / Health & Science

Merck Joins hands with UNESCO to fight Ebola in West Africa

By STANDARD REPORTER | Thu,Nov 27 2014 14:04:00 EAT

Sierra Leone: In the context of the Strategic Plan set up by UNESCO to respond to Ebola virus outbreak, the UNESCO Chair of Biotechnology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and Merck Germany, the oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company have launched a joint initiative to medical and health sciences students at the Universities of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea as part of Merck Capacity Advancement program- CAP in Africa.

The objective is to inform and educate the students to understand the scientific and medical aspects linked to this infection, and the need of cooperative/organization reactions at the political, healthy, and civil communities’ levels.

The Ebola virus Disease outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia is becoming not only a medical problem, but also an educational emergency. The perception of the disease by the public (either in Africa, but also in Europe and America) and by the health personnel requires great adjustment that only can be due by appropriate information/communication and educational actions.

Professor Vittorio Colizzi the director of the biotechnology chair of UNESCO who is currently in Seri Leon educating the students about Ebola in partnership with Merck CAP has emphasized:

“Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) has successfully played a great role in building healthcare capacity in Africa in the field of Diabetes and Non – Communicable medical education at the level of university students. Merck Capacity Advancement Program has developed with me an important project of three days educational activities in each of the three African countries under Ebola virus attack. The objective is to provide the correct information about risk factors, methods of prevention and approaches for safe intervention and to empower the future and current healthcare providers to act as Ebola Ambassadors who will encourage healthy behaviors and halt the spread of the disease”.

Rasha Kelej, Vice President, Merck Serono said “The Merck Capacity Advancement Program mainly aims at expanding healthcare capacity in the areas of research and development, clinical research, supply chain integrity and efficiency, pharmacovigilance, medical education and awareness for medical and pharmacy undergraduates, physicians and pharmacists in rural areas with special focus on Diabetes and other important diseases ”.

The provision of clear and reliable information is essential for a better understanding of the disease at the community level and as a bulwark for more effective prevention.

The Merck UNESCO Educational Initiative will definitely bolster the efforts of the Governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia to prevent the spread of the disease

After the huge success of 2014 Merck Capacity advancement program in the 8 different health sciences colleges in sub- Saharan African countries in order to equip more than 2000 of the medical and pharmacy students and healthcare providers of rural areas with the knowledge and experience to better diagnose, manage and prevent diabetes, Merck joined hands with UNESCO to apply the same concept in fighting Ebola in the effected countries. 

Merck capacity advancement program and UNESCO are providing an “EBOLA Emergency Education program" to respond to the Ebola Virus Disease for medical and health science students and lecturers of the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences University of Sierra Leone which was held last week at the Radiology Department Connaught Hospital in Freetown.

The disease which has infected and claimed the lives of thousands of people in Sierra Leone Guinea and Liberia has no cure, but can be treated.

The disease is becoming not only a medical problem but also an education emergency. The perception of the disease by the public requires great adjustment, and that can be due by appropriate information/ communication and educational actions.

Merck together with UNESCO Chair of Biotechnology, University of Rome Tor Vergata are planning for the next two tours in Guinea and Liberia.

Information, Education and Communication materials will be developed (flyers, posters and brochures) and distributed to community centres, youth centres and schools to engage community members on Ebola prevention and response.

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