1st Quarter 2013
We are pleased to update you on the recent progress of Merck for Mothers.
First Country Program Launches
Merck for Mothers' first country program is taking place in Uganda. Working in partnership with Population Services International's local affiliate – the Program for Accessible Health, Communication, and Education (PACE) – we are exploring the potential of private health providers to improve the affordability, accessibility, and quality of maternal healthcare; and we are looking at key questions such as equity and the ability of private providers to relieve the burden on the public sector. The program will reach more than 150,000 pregnant women in up to 30 districts over three years, and complements the work of Saving Mothers, Giving Life, which is strengthening the public health system to reduce maternal mortality.
Exciting Progress for Saving Mothers, Giving Life
Saving Mothers, Giving Life is energizing national efforts to improve maternal health in Uganda and Zambia, and making strong progress on implementing activities that are core to achieving the program's goal of reducing maternal mortality by up to 50% in eight target districts. A midterm evaluation by Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health reveals that both countries have mobilized large numbers of community health workers and activated media campaigns to promote delivery in facilities. Basic care kits have been distributed extensively, and a determined effort was made to improve the quality of obstetric care in both countries. To date, the number of pregnant women delivering in facilities has increased by nearly 50% in the target districts, and more than 400 new doctors, nurses, midwives, and technical officers have been trained or added to the health workforce in both countries. The program will begin to expand to new districts in both countries later this year, and is planning to begin work in Malawi. You can learn more by reading the first program update as well as highlights of a recent event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promoted Saving Mothers, and a video highlighted the initiative's importance in Zambia. Merck for Mothers supports on-the-ground program implementation and evaluation of Saving Mothers, Giving Life, and is also helping to guide the initiative's strategic direction through its pivotal role managing the initiative's secretariat.
Upcoming Webinar on Assessing Maternal Health Technologies
Merck and PATH have collaborated for the past year to identify health technologies that will have a sustainable impact on reducing maternal mortality. The process and findings from this rigorous assessment will be introduced on April 10th, during a one-hour webinar entitled "Maternal Health Innovations: Advancing Lifesaving Technologies to Reduce Maternal Mortality."
Merck for Mothers Featured at the Global Maternal Health Conference
Merck for Mothers' Executive Director Dr. Priya Agrawal moderated a panel at the Global Maternal Health Conference in Arusha, Tanzania on January 16th entitled "Merck for Mothers: A Dialogue on Strategy and Programs." The panel featured representatives from Merck for Mothers' program partners, including Paul LaBarre from PATH, Dorothy Balaba from PACE, Oona Campbell from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Ratnesh Lal from MSD India. The panelists touched on several key topics in maternal health, such as access to lifesaving technologies, the role of the local private health sector, and measuring the impact of public-private partnerships.
Merck for Mothers in the News
In January, Merck's Chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier contributed an article to the report, "Accelerating Progress in Saving the Lives of Women and Children," issued by the Global Campaign for the Health Millennium Development Goals. Additionally, Geralyn Ritter, Senior Vice President for Global Public Policy & Corporate Responsibility at Merck, was recently featured in Forbes as part of a special series – hosted by the Skoll World Forum – that focused on creating a market in the developing world for lifesaving commodities.
Thank you for your continued interest in Merck for Mothers. We look forward to updating you on our progress throughout the year!