MSD for Mothers

Partnership objectives

  1. Accelerate access to proven solutions;
  2. Product innovation;
  3. Global awareness and advocacy

MSD for Mothers is working with approximately 75 partners on more than 50 projects to improve the maternal health of women in 30 countries. MSD for Mothers is working with approximately 75 partners on more than 50 projects to improve the maternal health of women in 30 countries. Copyright MSD

What are the health needs and challenges?

Every two minutes, a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. If nothing is done an estimated three million women may die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth in the next decade. Most of these deaths are preventable.

While the burden falls most heavily on the developing world, certain communities in the United States and other developed nations are suffering significant and worsening rates of maternal death.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

In September, 2011 MSD* announced the launch of MSD for Mothers (known as Merck** for Mothers in the U.S. and Canada), a 10-year, $500 million initiative focused on creating a world where no woman has to die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Drawing on the company's history of discovering innovative, life-saving medicines and vaccines, MSD for Mothers is applying MSD's scientific and business expertise – as well as its financial resources and experience in taking on tough global healthcare challenges – to reduce maternal mortality around the world.

MSD for Mothers is working with approximately 75 partners on more than 50 projects to improve the maternal health of women in 30 countries.  The focus is on the two leading causes of death - post-partum hemorrhage and preeclampsia - as well as family planning, which is known to play an important role in saving women’s lives.

Working in close collaboration with partners, the program operates like a “living laboratory,” designing and testing health solutions for women that can achieve broad scale.  Each day, they look for new ways to confront the complex challenge of maternal mortality by adapting the core strategies that have helped us succeed as a global healthcare company. 

In India, Senegal, Uganda, the US and Zambia 2656 health facilities have been strengthened to provide quality care, 10,875 health workers have been trained and nearly 6 million women now have access to affordable, quality care and modern contraception.

Companies rely on multidisciplinary teams to drive innovation, execution, and progress. The success of MSD for Mothers is enhanced by bringing together partners from all sectors that share the MSD mission of saving women’s lives.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

MSD collaborated with PATH, an NGO leader in global health technology, to identify game-changing technologies with potential to save the lives of women during pregnancy and childbirth in low-resource settings. Through this collaboration they developed a tool to help prioritize technologies that have the greatest potential to save women’s lives. This is looking at criteria including cost, efficacy, and ease of use in resource-limited settings – as well as commercial viability – to help inform decisions about where to invest scarce resources to reduce maternal mortality. To date, PATH has assessed more than 50 technologies designed to reduce maternal mortality and has made the findings publicly available.

In India, MSD is strengthening the capacity of private health providers to meet clinical standards for maternal care. In partnership with local organizations, including the country’s association of OB/GYNs, MSD is streamlining the process for nearly 150 providers to become accredited so they are eligible to participate in government financing schemes.

In Uganda, MSD for Mothers supports building a health ecosystem: strengthening franchise clinics, engaging local transport providers to improve linkages to care, working with drug shops to provide essential supplies, promoting savings schemes, and training community health workers to raise awareness about safe motherhood and the importance of giving birth in a facility.  In one year, the partners in Uganda added nearly 40 new clinics, trained 150 drug shop owners, established more than 25 “mothers clubs,” and recruited more than 120 community health workers. The program is expected to reach more than 150,000 women over the next three years.

The partnerships in Zambia are focused on researching and designing new models of maternity waiting homes, the residential facilities located at or near health facilities where women in the late stages of pregnancy can stay before giving birth. Between 2015-2018, the project aims to have 24 maternity waiting homes linked to high quality health facilities in 8 districts.MSD is also working in Uganda and Zambia as a partner in Saving Mothers, Giving Life, a public-private partnership designed to dramatically reduce maternal and newborn mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.   Since 2012, the partnership has reduced maternal mortality ratios by 53 % in target facilities in Zambia and 45% in target facilities in Uganda. The success of the partnership means it will now expand the program to Cross River State in Nigeria.

In partnership with the government of Senegal, MSD for Mothers is supporting the national expansion of an innovative model that offers private suppliers performance-based financial incentives to maintain a sufficient inventory of contraceptives and make sure these products are consistently available. All regions are covered across the country and 1,404 health facilities are already participating, with 3.2 million women who now have access to modern contraception. 

*MSD is known as Merck in the U.S. and Canada

**Merck & Co. Inc. Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA


MSD* for Mothers: Launch Video

MSD for Mothers: #EndMaternalMortality

Partnership information

Company(ies) MSD

Partner(s) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Family Health International, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, PATH, United Nations Every Woman Every Child Initiative, United Nations Foundation, Women Deliver, World Health Organization (WHO)

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, IGOs, NGOs, Other Business

Therapeutic Focus Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Children's Health, Family Planning, Sexual & Reproductive Health, Obstetrics, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Differential Pricing, Health System Infrastructure - Development of Physical Infrastructure, Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach, Research & Development - Development of Treatments, Research & Development - Innovative Funding Mechanisms

Targeted Population(s) Marginalised / Indigenous People, Mothers, Women

Region(s) Latin America & Caribbean, North America, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 6

Country(ies) Brazil, India, Senegal, Uganda, United States of America, Zambia

Start Date 2011

More information MSD for Mothers

Anticipated completion date Ongoing

« If we can save women’s lives during pregnancy and childbirth, we’ll make families healthier, communities stronger, nations more productive. »

Naveen Rao, MD, Lead, MSD for Mothers