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First Lady Mutinta Hichilema Advocates for Girl Education and Combating Vices

Fist Lady Mutinta Hichilema and Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation,

First Lady Mutinta Hichilema addressed attendees at the Merck Foundation Zambia Annual Summit and Award Ceremony. Mrs. Hichilema highlighted the adverse impact of vices like early marriages on the progress of the girl child’s education, emphasizing the need for transformative initiatives.

During her address, the First Lady underscored the pivotal role of girl education in fostering self-sufficiency and economic independence among young girls. Recognizing the importance of providing opportunities for girls to pursue education, she revealed a collaboration between her office and the Merck Foundation through the program named ‘Educating Linda.’ The program’s primary objective is to support girl education and provide scholarships to girls, enabling them to complete their tertiary education by covering their tuition fees.

Since its inception, the ‘Educating Linda’ initiative has already made a significant impact, with 21 girls benefiting from scholarships to pursue nursing and health sciences in colleges and universities. These scholarships not only empower the girls to achieve their academic aspirations but also pave the way for their future success in the healthcare sector.

Chief Executive Officer of the Merck Foundation, Rasha Kelej, also addressed the gathering, highlighting the Foundation’s commitment to empowering doctors in Africa and Asia. Over the years, the Merck Foundation has provided a total of 1,570 scholarships for doctors in underserved fields such as diabetes, oncology, fertility specialty, respiratory care, and more. Notably, 126 of these scholarships have been extended to indigenous Zambian doctors, contributing to the advancement of the country’s healthcare capacity.

In response, Health Minister Sylvia Masebo, who was represented by Permanent Secretary Christopher Simoonga, expressed her gratitude to the Merck Foundation for its unwavering support in enhancing Zambia’s healthcare system. By providing specialist training to local doctors, the Foundation has contributed significantly to building a skilled medical workforce that can address critical healthcare challenges in the nation.

The Merck Foundation Zambia Annual Summit serves as a platform to discuss and promote essential healthcare initiatives and advocate for women’s empowerment through education. Through collaborative efforts like ‘Educating Linda’ and the provision of specialized scholarships for doctors, the Merck Foundation is playing a vital role in transforming lives and making a positive impact on Zambia’s healthcare and education sectors.