As part of Merck STEM program For Women and Youth, Merck Foundation, a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany conducted the 3rd edition of their annual “UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit” on the 28th and 29th of November 2017 under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs.
UNESCO-MARS 2017 was officially inaugurated by; Her Excellency the President of the Republic of Mauritius Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Mauritius’ Minister of Health and Quality of Life.
The President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim emphasized during the inauguration; “We are very happy to partner with the Merck Foundation and UNESCO to empower women and youth in STEM. The UNESCO – Merck Africa Research Summit is 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, and prepare the road ahead in Africa’s development as an international hub for research and scientific innovation.”
“For the third year, Merck Foundation continues their long term commitment towards building Research Capacity in Africa. Supporting the African research community, with special focus on Women and Youth is one of our most important objectives, this year in partnership with The Head of State of Mauritius together with African Governments, we focus on “The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – two critical challenges in Africa”. said Dr. Rasha Kelej, Merck Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer.
Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS Awards 2017
During the Summit Award ceremony, five winners from Mauritius, Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda and Mauritius were recognized and awarded respectively for their excellence in research under the category of ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’. Furthermore, three winners from South Africa, Senegal, and Botswana were presented with the ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ during the 3rd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit held in Mauritius.
For the first Time, an additional three female researchers from Mauritius, were presented with special “MARS Best Mauritian Women Researchers Award”, “this is to contribute to the Mauritian government efforts to promote women in STEM with special focus on scientific research in cancer” Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck foundation added.
After previous successful editions of the Summit, UNESCO and Merck Foundation join hands for the third time to respond to Africa’s STISA (Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa) 2024, reinforcing the axiom that only through building local capacities can Africa rise again to becoming an equal partner in advancing STEM research and education.
To this, UNESCO–MARS 2017 brings together African researchers to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in developing Africa as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation. These include researchers from Francophone countries such as Benin, Senegal, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, and Anglophone countries such as Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
More than 60% of young African Researchers attending this year, are women, emphasizing Merck Foundation’s long term commitment towards empowering women in STEM with special focus on Scientific Research in Cancer and Vaccines Development.