Merck’s Sixth Round of Global Grants Will Focus on Improving Maternal Health in Latin America

Merck announced a sixth round of global grants in its Merck for Mothers initiative, which is dedicated to helping end preventable maternal deaths around the world. Focused on Latin America, this round of grants will support organizations in Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Mexico, with the goal of reaching more than 135,000 women.

Despite a 30% reduction in maternal mortality since 2000, a woman living in Latin America still has a one in 640 chance of dying during pregnancy and childbirth – and wide disparities in maternal health outcomes persist within the region. Poor outcomes are often due to limited access to high-quality maternal health and family planning services. Migrant women and those from indigenous populations face the greatest risks, along with women living in hard-to-reach places and those with low socioeconomic status.

Since its inception in 2012, the Merck for Mothers Global Grants program has supported over 70 diverse projects in more than 45 global sites from Argentina to Vietnam. The program has reached over 4.7 million women and trained more than 75,000 health care workers with targeted, region-specific approaches. Grantees from previous rounds of the program have employed a variety of strategies to help reduce maternal mortality based on the needs in each location, from improving access to quality care through innovative digital tools to education surrounding the health rights of women.

“The Merck for Mothers Global Grants program has helped to reach millions of women across the world to help improve the quality of maternal care for underserved populations,” said Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, AVP, health equity and lead, Merck for Mothers. “We worked with our regional colleagues to select projects that we believe will help to address the issues that are most impacting women. We are excited to be able to continue to support efforts that help strengthen health systems and make improvements on how high-quality, equitable maternal health care is delivered today and in the future.”

The newly selected grants focus on high-impact activities that tackle issues unique to their selected country, but all have a common goal of improving maternal health care.

  • Brazil | UNICEF is mobilizing managers at national, state and local levels, raising awareness and training health workers to promote women's health during prenatal, childbirth and postpartum, and help reduce maternal mortality rates. The project will be implemented in municipalities in the Amazon and Semiarid regions, among some of the most vulnerable regions in the country.
  • Colombia | The International Organization for Migration is strengthening institutional capacities for the provision of maternal and perinatal health and sexual and reproductive health services, through the training of health professionals in the implementation of guidelines and protocols for maternal-perinatal care with high quality standards. This project will focus its efforts on migrant women from Venezuela, who do not have access to any prenatal care.
  • Dominican Republic | UNICEF is reducing maternal and neonatal mortality by improving the quality and humanization of public health services for the promotion, prevention and care of maternal health and nutrition of vulnerable populations – focusing on migrants and populations living in extreme poverty and/or in hard-to-reach communities.
  • Ecuador | UNICEF is working to strengthen the health care of pregnant women and adolescents, through personalized accompaniment, awareness-raising, education and capacity building, along with the prevention of teenage pregnancy and processes to improve timely access to prenatal care.
  • Mexico | Pro Mujer is addressing gender-based violence that can prevent women and girls from accessing family planning education and services as well as advancing violence-free obstetric and gynecological care.

To learn more about the Merck for Mothers Global Grants program, including current and past grantees, please visit: