- Accelerate access to proven solutions;
- Product innovation;
- Global awareness and advocacy
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.
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 140,000 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.
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. In its first year, the partnership reduced maternal mortality ratios by one-third in target facilities in Zambia and target facilities in Uganda.
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. Eight of 14 regions and 1,000 health facilities are already participating.
In Brazil, MSD for Mothers worked with the Brazilian government and a leading university to identify gaps in maternal care and to inform efforts to improve quality of care in two regions with particularly poor maternal health outcomes.
*MSD is known as Merck in the U.S. and Canada
**Merck & Co. Inc. Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA