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Press Release: Launch of India Programs

USD $10 Million Commitment to Improve Access to Maternal Health Services
in Areas with High Rates of Maternal Deaths

DELHI, INDIA, MAY 14 2013 – MSD for Mothers today announced the launch of its global initiative for helping reduce maternal mortality in India. It is partnering with three leading non-governmental organizations to improve the quality of healthcare that pregnant women in India receive through the private sector. MSD for Mothers is a 10-year, USD $500 million global initiative launched in 2011 by Merck Sharp & Dohme ("MSD"), known as Merck in the United States and Canada, to help create a world where no woman dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

The Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust ("HLFPPT"), Pathfinder International with World Health Partners ("Pathfinder"), and the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood with Gram Vaani ("WRA") together will reach nearly 500,000 pregnant women in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand – areas with some of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the country.

"We have made great strides towards Millennium Development Goal 5, but we know there's more work to do to reach that target," Mrs. Mamta Sharma, chairperson, National Commission for Women, said speaking at the India launch. "These new partnerships demonstrate innovative ways of working together to address this issue and bring India closer to our goal."

Most care in India is provided by the private sector, which includes a diverse array of independent physicians, nurses, and midwives as well as clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and health insurers. Additionally, private care is often supported by ambulance services, mobile service providers, and financial institutions.

"Maternal mortality is one of the oldest and most preventable health tragedies in the world today. While India has made progress in addressing this, there is still a lot that can be done collectively by the government, NGOs, and the private sector," said Naveen Rao, M.D., lead, MSD for Mothers. "Our focus in India is to work with partners who have the capability to improve maternal health care services delivered through the private sector and ultimately decrease the number of women still dying during pregnancy and childbirth."

MSD for Mothers and its partners are working to accelerate India's progress towards the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal 5, reducing the global maternal mortality rate by 75 percent by 2015. This goal is not currently on track to be achieved. While India has reduced its rate by approximately 67 percent since 1990, Indian women are still dying during pregnancy and childbirth, and there is still a lot that can be done to help prevent maternal mortality.

These partnerships will complement the government's initiatives to reduce maternal mortality. Specifically, efforts in India will focus on:

  • Making private care more affordable by offering private providers standardized tools, protocols, and branding across networks of health facilities;

  • Improving quality of care by training doctors, nurses, and health workers and offering women new ways to rate the care they receive; and

  • Connecting women in remote areas to doctors and nurses in cities through telecommunication and internet.

Talking about the benefits of the launch to India, Mr. K. G. Ananthakrishnan, managing director, MSD India, said, "We are proud to have partnered with such prestigious organizations and launch our global MSD for Mothers initiative in India. I believe the project has great potential to benefit our country in helping reduce maternal mortality with a collaborative approach."

HLFPPT: "HLFPPT aims to offer innovative, affordable, and sustainable reproductive health solutions," said Sharad Agarwal, chief executive officer, HLFPPT. "In line with its mission, HLFPPT has launched the Merrygold Health Network, with support from MSD for Mothers in Rajasthan. The project envisages to provide affordable maternal health service at an honest price, thereby improving maternal health status in 19 high focus districts of Rajasthan."

PATHFINDER: "Pathfinder works to uphold the rights of women to survive pregnancy and childbirth, and to sustain good health for themselves and their newborns, through provision of, and advocacy for, adequate, high-quality, and comprehensive services," remarked Mathew Joseph, country representative, Pathfinder India. "We believe in each woman's right to respect, safety, and dignity—including during pregnancy and childbirth. Globally, we advocate with governments and donor organizations to sustain investment in addressing maternal and newborn health challenges."

WRA: "India has seen considerable progress in the last few years in bringing down maternal mortality," commented Dr. Aparajita Gogoi, national coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance India. "Now what we need to do is to devise integrated strategies to ensure safe motherhood with emphasis on quality of care in service provision."

About MSD

Today's MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD is a tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Whitehouse Station, N.J., U.S.A. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

MSD operates its human health business in India through three separate legal entities: MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., Organon (India) Private Ltd., and Fulford (India) Limited, which are subsidiaries of Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., USA. Since its existence in India, the company has moved quickly in laying the foundation for a business that is differentiated by its focus through launching innovative products relevant to India. MSD India currently operates in various therapeutic areas in human health, including Metabolics, Cardiovascular, Vaccines, Critical Care, Virology, Oncology, Women's Health, Dermatology, Respiratory, Virology, Musculoskeletal and Primary Care, and offers a strong and diversified product portfolio of over 75 brands in total. For more information on MSD India, visit www.msdindia.in.

About MSD for Mothers

MSD for Mothers is a 10-year, half-billion-dollar initiative to create a world where no woman dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Drawing on MSD's history of discovering innovative, life-saving medicines and vaccines, MSD for Mothers is applying the company's scientific and business expertise – as well as its financial and human resources – to reduce maternal mortality around the world. MSD for Mothers is focused on access to quality care; product innovation; and awareness and advocacy.

MSD for Mothers has already launched the Merck for Ugandan Mothers (MUM) partnership with Population Services International and their local affiliate – the Program for Accessible Health, Communication, and Education (PACE). Additionally, MSD for Mothers awarded 22 grants to improve maternal health in 18 countries around the world as part of the MSD for Mothers Global Giving Program.

Forward-Looking Statement

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