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Merck Group eyes Africa from Nairobi office

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Vaccines Gardasil, a vaccine against human papillomavirus, a causative agent for cervical cancer which pharmaceutical firm, Merck donated to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital on August 24, 2011. Merck Group has opened its regional office in Kenya. Photo/JARED NYATAYA

Vaccines Gardasil, a vaccine against human papillomavirus, a causative agent for cervical cancer which pharmaceutical firm, Merck donated to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital on August 24, 2011. Merck Group has opened its regional office in Kenya. Photo/JARED NYATAYA  Nation Media Group

By EVELYN SITUMA

Posted  Thursday, October 3   2013 at  15:20

In Summary

  • Merck Group cites the country’s strategic position and developed infrastructure as ingredients that saw it open operations in Nairobi.
  • The firm first developed relations with Kenya in 2012 in a large-scale schistosomiasis treatment drive.

A giant pharmaceutical firm has opened its regional office in Kenya as it cleverly positions itself to open shop in the rest of Africa.

Merck Group cites the country’s strategic position and developed infrastructure as ingredients that saw it open operations in Nairobi. These, the group says, will play a central role in spreading its roots in the region.

Early this year, Merck, with decades of expertise in pharmaceutical, life science and chemical, tested the market with capacity building and awareness campaign for diabetes.

Under the programme, Merck's biopharmaceutical business --Merck Serono undertook a three-year programme on expanding professional capacity in clinical research, supply chain integrity, pharmacovigilance, research and development, community awareness and training of medical students at the University of Nairobi on diabetes management.

The initiative dubbed 'Get informed-Get active-Get health' was the first in Africa by Merck Serono.

Merck seems to spotted a goldmine of opportunities which forced it to shelve its three-year wait-and-see expansion plan for Kenya and almost immediately opened its office. The firm first developed relations with Kenya in 2012 in a large-scale schistosomiasis treatment drive.

Merck Group’s presence in the country will also help clamp down counterfeit drugs. Kenya is among countries in Africa battling fake drugs flooding from unscrupulous traders.

“I am confident that opening the office in Kenya is a trend in the right direction in order to ensure that quality medicine exists in the market as we battle counterfeits,” James Macharia, the Health ministry Cabinet secretary said during the launch in Nairobi.

On its part, Merck feels its entry in Kenya will help to provide accessible healthcare.

“Merck will provide accessible and equitable healthcare in Kenya and therein contribute to social and economic development,” said Frank Stangenberg- Haverkamp, the board chair of Merck Group.

According to Mr Macharia, the ministry’s goal is to provide safe and quality medicine to citizens.

“Healthcare is a fundamental human right as outlined by both the World Health Organisation and the Constitution. This therefore makes access to essential health a prerequisite for realising the right,” added Mr Macharia.

Although Kenya has made great strides in diabetes management, there are only a few educators for the large number of patients in need. It is estimated that five per cent of Kenyans or about two million people would be diabetic by 2025.

Merck Group has raised the number of global firms opening regional offices in the country. Other companies are Microsoft, Google, IBM, L’ Oreal, Pfizer Inc. among others.

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