Our Programs and Partners
Merck for Mothers in India
Merck for Mothers in India is a three-year, $10 million commitment to reduce maternal mortality in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand – areas with some of the highest rates of maternal mortality in India. A majority of people in India receive health services through private health providers, but this care can be unregulated, expensive, and of variable quality. Working alongside partners from the public sector and nonprofit organizations, Merck for Mothers in India is applying Merck’s business expertise to improve the affordability, quality, and accessibility of private maternal health services in India. The goal is to ultimately decrease the number of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth.
India has made significant strides in reducing the number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, driving a 67 percent decrease since 1990. Despite this progress, in 2010, 56,000 women died in India from complications of pregnancy and childbirth – more than any other country in the world. India is currently not on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal 5, which calls for a 75 percent reduction in maternal mortality by 2015, and there is still a lot that can be done to help prevent maternal mortality.
Merck for Mothers and its partners in India aim to improve maternal healthcare by offering private providers standardized tools, protocols, and branding across networks of health facilities. Additionally, technological advances such as telemedicine – the remote treatment of patients through phones and internet – help bring quality care to women in hard-to-reach locations, while other innovations enable women to rate the quality of care received.
Merck for Mothers’ partners in India include: Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust, Pathfinder International in partnership with World Health Partners, and the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in partnership with Gram Vaani. Collectively, Merck for Mothers in India is expected to reach nearly 500,000 pregnant women over three years.
Merck for Ugandan Mothers (MUM)
The Merck for Ugandan Mothers (MUM) program is a three-year, $9 million commitment that expands access to private healthcare, transportation to care, and essential supplies to reduce maternal mortality across 30 districts in Uganda. Led by Population Services International (PSI) and its local affiliate, the Program for Accessible Health, Communication and Education (PACE), the partnership is made up of a diverse team, including the Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Uganda (AOGU) and Transaid, a UK-based organization specializing in transportation.
Private health providers and businesses play a significant role in healthcare delivery in Uganda, and more than half of the very poor choose to seek care from the private sector. MUM seeks to strengthen the private health sector to reduce maternal deaths in the country, where an estimated 4,200 women died in 2010 from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
The program expands PACE's franchise network of private health facilities to include basic emergency obstetric care and a community-based transport system to link women to care. The program also provides technical training and mentorship to support the management and sustainability of the franchise clinics. Additionally, MUM tests innovative financing models, like community health insurance and savings clubs for mothers, to improve the affordability of maternal health services. For example, community health workers called "Mama and Tata Ambassadors" and drug shops provide information, education, and access to essential supplies.
MUM complements the work of Saving Mothers, Giving Life, a public-private partnership focused on reducing maternal mortality in Uganda. Taken together, these initiatives are expected to reach more than 150,000 pregnant women in Uganda over three years.
Saving Mothers, Giving Life
Through Merck for Mothers, Merck is a founding partner of Saving Mothers, Giving Life, a new public-private partnership to quickly and dramatically reduce maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Led by the U.S. Government, the initiative's other founding partners are the Government of Norway, Every Mother Counts, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Merck for Mothers will support Saving Mothers, Giving Life by helping to guide the strategic direction of the initiative, supporting on-the-ground program implementation and evaluation, working with partners to raise public awareness, and serving as the Secretariat.
Saving Mothers, Giving Life is beginning in select districts in Uganda and Zambia and is working closely with national governments to focus on the critical period of labor, delivery, and the first 24 hours following childbirth – when most deaths occur. A key aim of the partnership is to build on existing U.S. Government activities in these countries and leverage the infrastructure and reach of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development's maternal and child health programs.
Collaboration with PATH to Identify Innovations that Can Save Mothers' Lives
Many maternal health innovations hold great promise to reduce unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality in regions with very limited human and financial resources. However, financial, policy, infrastructure, and clinical hurdles limit access to these innovations and contribute to an innovations “log jam”. To accelerate progress in meeting MDG 5, Merck awarded PATH a grant in late 2011 to advance maternal health innovations. For the past year, PATH researchers have worked to identify and assess nearly 40 tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat the leading causes of maternal mortality — post-partum hemorrhage and preeclampsia. Their efforts are an important step in the global effort to develop, validate, and commercialize an affordable, sustainable supply of life-saving innovations.
The plan is to share the findings, insights, and recommendations drawn from this work with donors, national governments, private businesses, and other organizations to help guide investment decisions in accessible and affordable maternal health solutions — and encourage multi-sector participation in the campaign to save women's lives.
Merck and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Family Planning
In July 2012, Merck announced that it will work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand access to family planning, a critical step in improving the health of women around the world. Merck intends to pledge up to $25 million over eight years in support of this goal as part of Merck for Mothers.
U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities
Merck's President and CEO, Kenneth Frazier, is a member of the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, which was charged with developing a roadmap to increase access to essential medicines, medical devices, and other reproductive, maternal and child health commodities in low resource settings. The Commission's report (released in September 2012) identified major barriers to access — such as weak supply chains and lack of affordable products — and recommended concrete steps to overcome them to save and improve the lives of women and children.
The Commission will focus on advocacy efforts to build consensus around priority actions for increasing availability, affordability, accessibility, and appropriate use of essential maternal and child health commodities.
MDG Health Alliance
The MDG Health Alliance is convened by U.N. Special Envoy Ray Chambers and led by private sector leaders who are responsible for mobilizing public-private partnerships to improve maternal and child health. The Alliance works in partnership with U.N. Agencies, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and others to support efforts in high burden countries to accelerate progress toward achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Merck for Mothers’ Lead, Dr. Naveen Rao is the chair of the Maternal Health Pillar, one of seven initiatives that underpin the work of the Alliance.
The Maternal Health Pillar will tap into the potential of private health providers and health businesses to support national governments' efforts to achieve MDG 5. It aims to expand access to proven maternal health solutions in countries with a high burden of maternal mortality, such as India, Uganda, and Nigeria, by helping to develop sustainable models of healthcare delivery.
Innovation Working Group
The Every Woman Every Child Innovation Working Group (IWG) comprises an array of individuals from government, academia, civil society, UN agencies, and the private sector who seek to harness the power of partnership and innovation to advance the U.N. Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women's and Children’s Health. Merck for Mothers’ Lead, Dr. Naveen Rao, is co-chair of the IWG's Task Force on Sustainable Business Models which has identified the critical ingredients to start and maintain “healthy” businesses; ones that can provide health products and services to low-income women and children while remaining afloat.
In September, 2012, the Task Force issued a report entitled Fostering Healthy Businesses: Delivering Innovations in Maternal and Child Health. The report, which was launched during the 67th U.N. General Assembly, is a culmination of extensive research, including in-depth interviews, on how local businesses are working to improve the health of women and children in developing countries. The Task Force put forth a series of recommendations for governments, investors, and other actors to catalyze and support innovative models of healthcare delivery in some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable areas.
Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Merck was one of the first companies to join the World Health Organization--affiliated Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and ChildHealth, an alliance of more than 400NGOs, academic institutions and multilateral agencies. As a private company, Merck supports the Partnership’s work by advocating for mobilization and alignment of resources, and for greater private sector engagement in support of the U.N.’s Every Woman Every Child initiative, which aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.