As part of our company’s longstanding commitment to health access, creating opportunities for our employees to contribute to Merck for Mothers is important to us, especially as we continue to bring new initiatives forward to help create a world where no person has to die while giving life. In our most recent employee spotlight, we spoke with Gabriela Trifon, based in Romania.
I am the Communications and CSR Manager for Merck Romania, and I have been with Merck for five and a half years. I am grateful I get to tackle this kind of work in my home country of Romania because it truly makes an impact - four Merck for Mothers programs have been implemented here. Romania has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Europe, as well as the one of the highest numbers of teen pregnancies.1,2,3,4 It is heartbreaking to know that Romania also has one of the highest numbers of children with children (meaning girls roughly around the age of 10).1,5 We are working to help address these challenges through the support of Merck for Mothers. However, there is still more work that needs to be done.
Answer: Along with being passionate about the work that I do for Merck Romania as the Communications and CSR Manager, I am also extremely committed to helping advance our Merck for Mothers initiative throughout the country. It’s incredible because you can really see the impact in both Romania and the republic of Moldova. For example, we estimate that by the end of 2023, there will be a total of 100,000 women reached in five years through programs supported by Merck for Mothers.
Answer: Considering how widespread the global maternal health problem is and how it affects both my individual community and society at large, I cannot stay away from helping solve this ongoing issue. Last year when we launched our third Merck for Mothers project in Romania, supporting Organizatia Salvati Copiii (translates to Save the Children in English), we were thrilled we had the chance to visit one of the communities where the project is implemented and meet one of beneficiaries, a 17-year-old pregnant girl. Her story resonated with me and the rest of the group because she had never been to an obstetrician before, and through the support of the program, she was able to get her first scan and find out that she was expecting a boy! I got to personally see the happiness on her face while speaking with her and it was in that moment that my colleagues and I recognized how truly important access to health care and medical education are.
Answer: I believe that the program is helping by focusing on strengthening the health care system and by educating the general public. To elaborate, one of our past programs included a digital education component and last year the Society for Contraceptive & Sexual Education launched the first digital app on sexual education for teenagers in Romanian language. Another program focused on enhancing the collaboration between the local community and local nurses, which is a new resource that we have identified now at the national level to support pregnant women by helping them navigate the health care system and services.
Answer: A more recent project that Merck for Mothers supported which comes to mind had to do with providing emergency support to Ukrainian mothers and pregnant refugees. As part of the project, our goal was to provide maternal health care via mobile medical units. For background, the Republic of Moldova did not have legislation in place for accommodating this type of service. However, because of this program, the legislation was changed to introduce this new type of health care service, providing access via mobile medical units to Ukrainian refugees as well as women and teenagers around the country.
It was wonderful to see the support from Merck for Mothers with the mobile units and the postnatal kits that they provided. With the support of our colleagues in Merck Belgium and Merck Romania, we prepared and sent over more than 100 postnatal kits in the Republic of Moldova. Save the Children estimated that about 400 mothers and children benefited from our support.
Answer: Merck Romania was awarded the 1st prize at the CSR Awards for the Merck for Mothers project in the health category. We were recognized as a company for the impact we have had in addressing maternal mortality. As important as the award is, it has been deeply rewarding to see how all Merck for Mothers projects succeed in putting maternal health on the societal agenda, and how this issue of maternal mortality has inspired and triggered so many more people and organizations in the country to also take action. For example, in 2017 we were the only company involved in supporting maternal health, and now, in 2022 it has been amazing to see more organizations joining forces to solve the issues of maternal mortality and access to health care for pregnant women.
Answer: Throughout my time with Merck Romania, I’ve learned that these women are not just numbers, and I’ve been able to see how the program is making a difference. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I also think it takes a village to protect a mother and that is why it is very important that we continue to contribute our time and energy. The amazing part is that every one of us can contribute in some way, big or small. I encourage colleagues at Merck to become Merck for Mothers employee ambassadors and help us create awareness about the issue of maternal mortality and how we are contributing to ending it.
This is a great opportunity and it’s humbling because I don’t see any other company working as hard to solve this problem than ours is through Merck for Mothers, and because of this, I am very proud.