Merck Foundation brings 26 African Ministers together to Empower Women and Youth in STEM through their online Merck Africa Research Summit (MARS) in partnership with African Union

Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit -MARS was conducted online during the 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021; The MARS Summit High-Level Ministerial Panel Discussion with 26 Ministers of Health, Science and Technology, Education, Information And Gender and MARS Researchers.

Merck Foundation (, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany conducted the Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit – MARS 2021 online, in partnership with the African Union and African Ministers of different sectors, during the 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021, held in partnership with the Government of Zambia.

The conference was inaugurated by The President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. Dr. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU and Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees. It was co-chaired by H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.

Elaborating about the MARS Summit, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of MARS explained “I am very happy to have 26 African Ministers of different sectors, coming together for the MARS Online VC. Merck Foundation has been committed to underscore its long-term commitment towards building Healthcare and Research Capacity in Africa with a special focus on women and youth.

This year, the Summit mainly addressed the importance of Empowering women and youth in education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics); challenges and strategies, the response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenges in Africa”.

Dr. Eng. Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director, African Union – Scientific, Technical and Research Commission, emphasized, “The Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit was a valuable opportunity for all those engaged and interested in health research in Africa to learn about the full spectrum of ground-breaking scientific research currently underway in the continent with respect to COVID-19, and prepare the road ahead in Africa’s strategy to tackle the pandemic with a concrete approach”.

MARS Online VC brought distinguished leaders on a single platform to reaffirm Merck Foundation’s commitment towards developing a strong Africa roadmap towards gender equality by discussing policies, leadership, and scientific roles that can enable women to recover and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.

Hon. Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, Minister of Health and Population, Malawi said, “Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers, and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic.

This MARS ministerial panel has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the role of governments and policies in advancing gender equality which will be conducive in our collaboration to empower women and supporting girls in education. I am very privileged to work closely with the African Ministers to contribute towards the development of Africa.”

The High-level Ministerial panel included:

  1. Hon. Dr. Jonas Kamima CHANDAMinister of Health, Zambia
  2. Hon. Dr. Dennis WANCHINGAMinister of General Education, Zambia
  3. Hon. Dr. Brian MUSHIMBAMinister of Higher Education, Zambia
  4. Hon. Elizabeth PHIRIMinister of Gender, Zambia
  5. Hon. Dora SILIYAMinister of Information & Broadcasting Service, Zambia
  6. Hon. Silvia Paula Lutucuta, Minister of Health, Angola
  7. Hon. Dr. NDIKUMANA ThadéeMinister of Public Health & Fighting against AIDS, Burundi
  8. Hon. Dr. François HAVYARIMANAMinistre de L’Education Nationale et de la Recherche Scientifique, Burundi
  9. Hon. Imelde SABUSHIMIKEMinistre de la Solidarité Nationale, des Affaires Sociales, des Droits de la Personne Humaine et du Genre, Burundi
  10.  Hon. Marie Chantal NIJIMBEREMinistre de la Communication, des Technologies de L’Information et des Médias, Republic of Burundi
  11.  Hon. Jacquiline Lydia MikoloMinister of Health & Population, Republic of the Congo
  12.  Hon. Dr. Ahmadou Lamin SamatehMinister of Health, The Gambia
  13.  Hon. Ebrima SILLAHMinister of Information, The Gambia
  14.  Hon. Colonel Remy LamaMinister of Health, Guinea Conakry
  15.  Hon. Pr. Amadou Bano BarryMinister of Education, Guinea Conakry
  16.  Hon. Amara SompareMinister of Information & Communication, Guinea Conkary
  17.  Hon. Khumbize Kandodo ChipondaMinister of Health & Population, Malawi
  18.  Hon. Dr. Patricia KaliatiMinister Of Gender, Community Development & Social Welfare, Republic of Malawi
  19.  Hon. Agnes NyalonjeMinister Of Education, Malawi
  20.  Hon. Ulemu MsungamaMinister Of Youth & Sports, Malawi
  21.  Hon. Timoth Pagonachi MtamboMinister Of Civic Education & National Unity, Malawi
  22.  Hon. Dr. Kalumbi ShangulaMinister of Health & Social Services, Namibia
  23.  Hon. Dr. Joyce Moriku KaducuState Minister for Health, Uganda
  24.  Hon. Monica MutsvangwaMinister of Information & Broadcasting Publicity, Zimbabwe
  25.  Hon. Sthembiso NyoniMinster of Women Affairs Small & Medium Enterprises, Zimbabwe
  26. Hon. Amon MurwiraMinister of Higher & Tertiary Education, Zimbabwe

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