NEW YORK, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) will bestow its annual Global Corporate Philanthropy Award on the research-driven pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc., here tonight during its 50th anniversary gala. Also honored will be AMREF founder Dr. Thomas D. Rees for his life-time humanitarian achievements.
"For Merck, philanthropy is at the core part of its business strategy," said Professor Miriam Were, Chairperson of the International AMREF Board of Directors and former UNFPA/CSTAA Director in Ethiopia. "Merck is at the forefront of efforts to improve access to medicines for the poorest people in the developing world, from the Merck MECTIZAN Donation Program, to its involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We hope Merck's record of exemplary corporate citizenship will encourage other corporations to act likewise in helping to address the health and survival of women, men and children throughout Africa."
Merck and AMREF have worked together since 2004 to support HIV/AIDS prevention interventions among youth through training, information, education and communication tools together with teachers and village health committees. Through these interventions, AMREF and Merck are working to reduce stigma and discrimination against people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and to decrease HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in Uganda.
"Merck is honored to be recognized for our philanthropic leadership by AMREF, with whom we share a strong commitment to creating sustainable health infrastructures in Africa," said Merck Chairman, President and CEO Richard T. Clark. "Improving access is about more than simply making our medicines and vaccines available. It requires a long-term view and a hands-on approach to health and other development challenges. It is our hope that through our efforts and those of our partners we will help identify and implement effective and sustainable solutions to global health challenges such as HIV/AIDS."
Throughout its history, Merck has devoted considerable effort to bringing its medicines and vaccines, expertise and experience to people around the world. The Merck MECTIZAN(R) Donation Program, the single largest, longest standing public/private partnership of its kind, is widely regarded as one of the most successful and effective global health collaborations between the public and private sectors in the world. The program, which currently reaches more than 60 million people in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East each year for the treatment of river blindness, is now in its 20th year. Merck has applied its experience with the MECTIZAN Donation Program to others partnerships around the world that are helping to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS including The African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP), a partnership among the Government of Botswana, Merck and The Merck Company Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support and enhance Botswana's national response to HIV/AIDS through a comprehensive approach to prevention, care, treatment and support. Botswana currently has more than 88,000 patients on anti-retroviral therapy, with more than 1,000 new patients enrolling in the national treatment program each month. According to the World Health Organization, the country's free antiretroviral treatment program has enrolled the highest proportion of eligible patients on the African continent.
Merck has consistently ranked among the top two corporate donors in the United States in the annual ranking by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In 2006, Merck's corporate cash and product donations were $826 million. In 2007, Merck celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Merck Company Foundation, the Company's chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable organizations. Since its inception, The Merck Company Foundation has contributed more than $480 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with Merck's overall mission to enhance the health and well-being of people around the world.
AMREF Founder Tom Rees Honored with Humanitarian Award
Today, AMREF also is honoring Dr. Tom Rees for his visionary efforts by bestowing on him its first-ever Humanitarian Award. His dear friends actor Robert Redford and columnist Liz Smith will be on hand to help him celebrate.
Dr. Rees, now 80, was born in Utah. He is a renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon - he's trained just about all of the most respected plastic and reconstructive surgeons operating today -including Sherell Aston, Dan Baker and Charles Thorne. Tom Rees' surgical and academic career has spanned over 43 years. He served as the chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Manhattan, Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. He was a clinical professor of plastic surgery at New York University and a senior surgeon to the Institute for Reconstructive Surgery.
During his plastic surgery fellowship at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Great Britain, Dr. Rees met his mentor Sir Archibald McIndoe, the surgeon renowned for having developed reconstructive surgical techniques to treat hundreds of RAF fighter pilots whose planes went down in flames. Dr. Rees' training with Archie McIndoe literally changed his life - and began his lifelong commitment to the continent of Africa and its people.
Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the African Medical & Research Foundation (AMREF) works to improve health care for underserved Africans as a means to relieve poverty and enhance the quality of their lives. AMREF was founded more than 50 year ago as The Flying Doctors of East Africa. Since then, it has helped millions of women, men and children through its pioneering work in clinical outreach services, community based family health, HIV/AIDS, malaria, sanitation and health care education.
AMREF USA, its U.S. affiliate, provides technical and financial support that helps enable AMREF to carry out its life-saving mission. For more information, please visit www.amref.org
Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck currently discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The Company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit www.merck.com.
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The African Medical and Research Foundation