Over 5000 University of Nairobi medical students are set to steer the fight against diabetes through the Merck Capacity Advancement Program. The training program will seek to equip them with skills to avert the diabetes epidemic.
The students who went through the first of a series of trainings last week at University of Nairobi were imparted with knowledge on Diabetes etiology enabling them to evaluate altered glycemia and implement therapeutic solutions. They will also be able to manage diabetic patients with their possible complications and co-morbidities.
Furthermore they will be able to set up educational and prevention strategies including self care management targeting all counties and regions beyond through the European accredited clinical diabetes management training that is provided by Merck Serono a division of Merck Germany.
During his visit to University of Nairobi, Merck Chairman of the board and Merck family member Dr. Frank Stangenberg Haverkamp said that Diabetes Mellitus especially type 2, is a growing epidemic in the developing countries as a result of changing lifestyles.
“Merck aims to prioritize diabetes care by increasing awareness on its prevention in developing countries thus creating ambassadors to manage patients in whatever proximity.”
The 5 year Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) is targeting yearly over 1,000 local students. It aims to expand the professional capacity in Africa in the areas of research and development, clinical research, supply-chain integrity and efficiency, Pharmacovigilance, community awareness and Medical education for the University of Nairobi’s Medical students.
During the launch of the Merck offices, Cabinet Secretary of Health James Macharia reiterated that the Government is committed towards curbing the rising cases of diabetes in the country with more than 1.6 million people affected as Central Kenya records highest prevalence at eight.
He welcomed the Capacity Advancement Program saying, “The program is innovative as our university students are drivers in enabling us achieve our goal as a Ministry to create public awareness on prevention and control of diabetes as the disease has been on the rise over the years.”
In Africa the prevalence of Diabetes is about 4% of the adult population with almost 15 million people with a high rate of mortality. Almost 350 thousand subjects are below 60 years of age
The scientific educational program is sponsored by Merck Serono and offered by the Serono Symposia International Foundation (SSIF), an independent organization providing medical education programs accredited by the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (EACCME).
Merck is also committed towards the fight against diabetes having launched its first Diabetes Awareness Campaign dubbed, “ Get Informed, Get active , Get healthier” which was launched in the country early this year in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Kenyatta hospital, Nairobi University and Kenya diabetes management and information centre (DMI).
The Nairobi University students are among other universities selected including Makerere University and University of Namibia who will receive advanced professional know-how to curb the high incidence of diabetes. The program will extend to the rest of African universities in the next few years.
The initiative will also support the development of educational programs such as accredited Clinical Diabetes Management training mainly targeting medical undergraduates at local universities in Africa so that, ultimately, they act as diabetes ambassadors. In the near future it will address the medical education for health care providers in rural areas.
University of Nairobi, Principal of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Isaac O. Kibwage, said “Nairobi University is ready to support initiatives such as Merck’s Capacity Advancement Program and associate with other institutions whose overall objectives and goals are directed towards alleviating challenges in the provision of healthcare especially emerging diseases such as Diabetes.”
Elcin Ergun, Senior Vice President of Merck Serono, Intercontinental Region explained: “We are fully committed to partner with the government, healthcare institutions, academics and other stakeholders to develop, and deliver solutions to increase access to health solutions. Our diabetes awareness campaigns started early this year and capacity & capability development programs kicked off in the Nairobi University are just the beginning of these programs which we will continue and broaden in time. ”
Merck Serono seeks to establish its CAP with various African countries through engaging local stakeholders in order to develop structured, country specific and partnership based programmes that add value to the society and scientific community. Said Rasha Kelej , Merck serono CSR director.