Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced the opening of its new office in Nigeria by Stefan Oschmann, CEO-elect of Merck, and Karim Bendhaou, President of North & West Africa. It’s the company’s first in the country and part of its strategy to grow its market share in the West African region.
Merck products have already been present in the country for several years and today the company announced that this portfolio was expanded with the launch of the Muse Auto CD4/CD4% System(1), a compact and easy to use HIV/AIDS Diagnostic Kit, which is able to monitor the progression of the HIV/AIDS virus in patients.
“Nigeria is an evident choice for us. With a population that is known for its entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas, this is a perfect match with Merck,“ declared Oschmann. “Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has one of the fastest growing economies in the world(2) and we believe that through our high quality and innovative Healthcare and Life Science specialty products and services we can contribute to that growth.”
Charles Ajibo, General Manager Nigeria for Biopharma, added “Nigeria is a very important market for us and this will only increase in the coming years. We plan to expand our current portfolio in a steady pace and introduce many more products that are targeted to the unmet medical needs of Nigerian patients and help them improve their daily lives.”
Besides a presence through their products, the company has been working closely with the Nigerian government and international organizations to increase access to health solutions in Nigeria. Together with the Federal Ministry of Health, Merck organized a panel discussion on November 17th that focussed on the role the private sector can play in helping countries like Nigeria accelerate progress on Universal Health Coverage and the importance of forging partnerships to deliver health solutions for the population. It also took a closer look at the challenges of scaling up and sustaining public-private partnerships and private-private partnerships that seek to improve access to affordable and quality care.
Furthermore, as part of its commitment to improving access to healthcare in developing countries, the company is supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight against schistosomiasis in Africa. Since the start of the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program, Merck has donated over 290 million praziquantel tablets. To date, more than 64 million patients have been treated, consisting primarily of school children. Nigeria is currently the largest recipient of the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program. Praziquantel is the most effective treatment for the parasitic worm disease schistosomiasis. Until now, Merck has donated nearly 71,000,000 tablets to WHO for Nigeria and another 34 million will follow by the end of this year.
“Millions of children worldwide still suffer from schistosomiasis. The disease prevents them from learning and weakens development potential in the affected countries. We want to give children new opportunities while at the same time promoting economic growth and making a brighter future possible,” said Oschmann during a visit of the Karon-Majigi Primary School in Abuja where he attended a distribution of Praziquantel tablets. Nigeria has been a recipient of the donation program since 2008 and as such, it was one of the first countries benefiting from it.
Merck, within the scope of its responsible corporate governance, is committed to improving access to health for underserved populations in low-and middle-income countries. Health, along with environment and culture, represent Merck’s strategic spheres of activities that are part of the company’s Corporate Responsibility Strategy.
Merck has delivered healthcare services in Africa since 1897. With a population rising faster than in any other global market and a growing middle class, the company is increasingly tapping into the continent’s innovative spirit to create health awareness and help respond to unmet medical needs. The Group’s Executive Board is visiting 10 African countries this week to underscore its commitment and rising importance of the continent. Among others, Merck seeks to start local production diabetes treatment Glucophage in Algeria, inaugurate an office in Nigeria and start the sale of its Muse® Auto CD4/CD4% System to detect HIV.