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His Excellency Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu President of the Republic of Zambia at The 8th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa-Asia Luminary Conference 2021 and The Celebration of The 4th Anniversary of Merck Foundation Tuesday, 27th April 2021. State House. Lusaka.

  • ESTHER LUNGU, FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA;
  • THE FIRST LADIES FROM VARIOUS AFRICAN COUNTRIES;
  • HONOURABLE MINISTERS;
  • SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS;
  • THE CHAIRMAN OF MERCK AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF MERCK FOUNDATION;
  • COOPERATING PARTNERS AND MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS;
  • SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS;
  • DISTINGUISHED GUESTS;
  • LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

 

ON BEHALF OF THE ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT, THE PEOPLE AND INDEED ON MY OWN BEHALF, I WISH TO BEGIN BY EXPRESSING MY HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHAD AND THE PEOPLE, ON THE SUDDEN AND TRAGIC LOSS OF MY DEAR BROTHER HIS EXCELLENCY MR. IDRISS DERBY, THE LATE PRESIDENT OF CHAD. IT IS MY SINCERE PRAYER THAT GOD ALMIGHTY MAY COMFORT THE BEREAVED FAMILY AND THE ENTIRE NATION DURING THIS DIFFICULT TIME.

I NOW WISH TO INVITE YOU TO JOIN ME IN OBSERVING A MINUTE OF SILENCE IN HONOUR OF OUR DEAR DEPARTED LEADER.

(MINUTE OF SILENCE)

MADAM FIRST LADIES,

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

I AM DEEPLY HONOURED TO WELCOME YOU ALL TO THE 8TH EDITION OF MERCK FOUNDATION AFRICA ASIA LUMINARY VIRTUAL CONFERENCE, 2021, HOSTED BY THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA AND CO-CHAIRED BY THE FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA, MRS. ESTHER LUNGU, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE MERCK FOUNDATION.

I AM EXTREMELY DELIGHTED THAT THIS VIRTUAL CONFERENCE IS COINCIDING WITH THE 4TH ANNIVERSARY OF MERCK FOUNDATION – OUR LONG TERM STRATEGIC PARTNER.

TO ALL THE FIRST LADIES IN AFRICA WHO ARE ACTIVELY INVOLVED WITH THE MERCK FOUNDATION, I URGE YOU TO CONTINUE PRIORITISING HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGH VARIOUS CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMMES WHICH ARE AIMED AT SUPPORTING THE WORK OF THE MINISTRIES OF HEALTH IN OUR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES.

MADAM FIRST LADIES,

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

AS YOU ALL KNOW, WE WERE SUPPOSED TO WELCOME YOU ALL TO ZAMBIA BUT DUE TO THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC WE COULD NOT CONDUCT THIS IMPORTANT CONFERENCE PHYSICALLY.

HOWEVER, MY GOVERNMENT WORKED CLOSELY WITH MERCK FOUNDATION TO MAKE USE OF THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO HAVE THIS CONFERENCE VIRTUALLY. WITH THIS, WE HAVE BEEN AFFORDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET AND DISCUSS DIFFERENT STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME HEALTH AND SOCIAL CHALLENGES, AND FIND SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO EQUITABLE AND QUALITY HEALTHCARE IN OUR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES.

THIS VIRTUAL PLATFORM HAS GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO MORE THAN 2000 HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, POLICY MAKERS, ACADEMIA AND MEDIA FROM 70 COUNTRIES TO SHARE EXPERIENCES AND LEARN LESSONS. THIS WILL HELP US TO SEE HOW WE CAN IMPROVE THE LIVES OF OUR PEOPLE IN LINE WITH THE UNITED NATIONS AGENDA 2030 ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. AS WE DO THIS, LET US NOT FORGET THAT COVID 19 PANDEMIC IS REAL AND WE ALL NEED TO ADHERE TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDELINES PROVIDED BY OUR HEALTH EXPERTS IN OUR VARIOUS COUNTRIES.

I AM CONFIDENT THAT THIS PLATFORM WILL ALSO HELP US TO EXPLOIT PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AND INTRODUCE NEW FRAMEWORKS FOR COOPERATION IN THE AREA OF CAPACITY BUILDING OF HEALTHCARE WORKERS AND IN COLLABORATION WITH THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH HERE IN ZAMBIA, MERCK FOUNDATION AND OTHER MINISTRIES OF HEALTH, GOVERNMENTS, ACADEMIA, RESEARCH AND HEALTHCARE SOCIETIES AND INSTITUTIONS ACROSS THE WORLD.

MADAM FIRST LADIES,

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

AS THE POPULATION OF AFRICA GROWS TO ALMOST 1.4 BILLION PEOPLE, I URGE AFRICAN LEADERS AND ALL OF YOU TO FOCUS ON BUILDING OUR HEALTHCARE CAPACITY AND TRAIN MORE AND MORE HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS IN VARIOUS SPECIALTIES TO KEEP THE AFRICAN POPULATION HEALTHY AND PRODUCTIVE.

IT IS GRATIFYING THAT THE CRITICAL ROLE OF OUR HEALTH WORKERS HAS BEEN APPRECIATED AND RE-EMPHASISED DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC WHICH IS CONFRONTING THE GLOBE. WE PAY GLOWING TRIBUTE TO THEM AS OUR HEROES AND HEROINES WHO HAVE CONSISTENTLY BEEN AT THE BATTLEFRONT OF VARIOUS PUBLIC HEALTH THREATS AND EMERGENCIES AND MORESO, DURING THE COVID 19 PANDEMIC WHICH HAS CONTINUED TO RAVAGE NATIONS. I NOW TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SALUTE ALL OUR HEALTH WORKERS WITH LOTS OF LOVE AND RESPECT FOR THEIR UNWAVERING COMMITMENT IN SAVING MANY LIVES IN ZAMBIA, THE REST OF AFRICA AND THE ENTIRE WORLD.

I BELIEVE THAT STRONGER POLITICAL COMMITMENT, PURPOSEFUL AND STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS ARE KEY TO IMPROVING HEALTH OUTCOMES, AND THE WELLBEING OF ALL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, ESPECIALLY IN AFRICA. AS POLITICAL LEADERS, WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO OUR PEOPLE FOR THE DECISIONS WE MAKE AND THE RESULTS WE ACHIEVE.

LET ME ALSO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO APPRECIATE OUR LONG TERM PARTNERSHIP WITH MERCK FOUNDATION. I AM IMPRESSED WITH THE FOUNDATION’S SMART STRATEGY AND FLAWLESS EXECUTION WHICH IS AIMED AT ADVANCING CAPACITY OF OUR HEALTHCARE BY PROVIDING CRITICAL AND UNDERSERVED SPECIALTY TRAINING FOR OUR LOCAL DOCTORS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, HENCE ENSURING QUALITY AND EQUITABLE HEALTHCARE TO OUR PEOPLE, A CRITICAL INGREDIENT IN THE ATTAINMENT OF UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE.

TO ACHIEVE THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS, THERE IS URGENT NEED FOR INNOVATIVE, DYNAMIC AND PURPOSEFUL PARTNERSHIPS. IT IS ONLY THROUGH EFFECTIVE COORDINATION OF COLLECTIVE EFFORT THAT WE CAN ACHIEVE THESE GOALS.

MADAM FIRST LADIES,

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

TODAY, THERE ARE ACHIEVEMENTS TO CELEBRATE, BUT ALSO CHALLENGES TO ADDRESS. NOW MORE THAN EVER, WE HAVE REALISED THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF OUR PUBLIC HEALTHCARE SECTORS. WITH THIS REALISATION, WE MUST CONTINUE PROGRAMMES THAT BUILD OUR HEALTHCARE CAPACITY AND TRAIN OUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS AT ALL LEVELS.

IN THIS REGARD, MY GOVERNMENT HAS IDENTIFIED HUMAN RESOURCE FOR HEALTH AS A CRITICAL INVESTMENT IN ENSURING THAT OUR PEOPLE ARE HEALTHY AND PRODUCTIVE. THIS RESOURCE IS A PREREQUISITE TO OUR COUNTRY’S SOCIO–ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION AND IS WELL ARTICULATED IN OUR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN AND THE NATIONAL HEALTH STRATEGIC PLAN.

I AM HAPPY AND ENCOURAGED THAT MERCK FOUNDATION HAS PARTNERED WITH AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS INCLUDING, ZAMBIA TO RESHAPE OUR HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT LANDSCAPE IN ZAMBIA BY PROVIDING MORE THAN 85 ZAMBIAN DOCTORS WITH SPECIALISED TRAINING IN MANY FIELDS SUCH AS CANCER, DIABETES, HYPERTENSION AND WOMEN HEALTH, REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AS WELL AS, RESPIRATORY AND INTENSIVE CARE.

THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH MERCK FOUNDATION WILL CONTINUE TO ADD IMMENSE VALUE TO OUR MISSION OF BUILDING CAPACITY AND TRAINING OF MORE HEALTHCARE SPECIALISTS AND EXPERTS TO IMPROVE TREATMENT FOR CANCER, CARDIAC DISEASES AND ARTIFICIAL INVITRO-FERTILISATION, RENAL AND BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT AND OTHER SPECIALTIES. THIS WILL FURTHER IMPROVE ACCESS TO QUALITY AND EQUITABLE HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS NATIONWIDE AND IN AFRICA.

OUR EFFORTS TO ATTAIN SUCCESS IN CREATING HEALTHCARE CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE IN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AIMED AT ADDRESSING CHALLENGES FACING THE CONTINENT IN THE HEALTH SECTOR, DEPENDS ON SPECIALISED HEALTHCARE PERSONNEL. I AM EQUALLY DELIGHTED TO SEE RESULTS OF OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH MERCK FOUNDATION IN SUCH A SHORT TIME. I FURTHER, APPRECIATE THE SIGNIFICANT IMPACT OF THEIR PROGRAMMES AND LONG-TERM COMMITMENT ON THE TRANSFORMATION AND RESHAPING OF OUR PUBLIC HEALTHCARE SECTOR.

MADAM FIRST LADIES,

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

THIS YEAR‘S LUMINARY TOGETHER WITH ALL OF YOU, AND WITH MERCK FOUNDATION WILL ENHANCE OUR AFRICAN AND ASIAN COOPERATION AS A CATALYST TO GREATER INTEGRATION BETWEEN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.

THIS, ANNUAL CONFERENCE HAS ONCE AGAIN DEMONSTRATED THE MERCK FOUNDATION’S EXCEPTIONAL COMMITMENT TO AFRICA AND ASIA. IT IS THEREFORE, MY EXPECTATION THAT DURING THE THREE DAYS OF DELIBERATIONS, THIS MEETING WILL PROVIDE SCIENTIFIC AND SOCIAL EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMES FOR AFRICA’S HEALTHCARE NEEDS WITH SPECIAL FOCUS ON DISEASE PREVENTION, EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT.

MADAM FIRST LADIES,

DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

AS I CONCLUDE I WISH TO EMPHASISE THAT STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS ARE BENEFICIAL NOT ONLY TO BOOSTING THE HEALTH SECTOR, BUT ALSO, TO TRANSFORMING THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF ANY COUNTRY. I WISH YOU ALL FRUITFUL DELIBERATIONS.

IT IS NOW MY SINGULAR HONOUR AND PRIVILEGE TO DECLARE THIS CONFERENCE OFFICIALLY OPEN.

 

I THANK YOU.

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