Case Study: Collaboration

Merck for Mothers, Merck


Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, $500 million initiative to address one of the world’s oldest preventable health tragedies —the death of a woman from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The initiative is addressing the two leading causes of maternal mortality: postpartum hemorrhage (bleeding after childbirth) and preeclampsia (hypertensive disorders) as well as focusing on family planning, which is known to play an important role in reducing maternal mortality.

Merck for Mothers is working closely with governments, international organizations, health experts, advocacy groups and those on the front lines to implement programs that focus on three key areas—product innovation, access to quality, affordable care, and advocacy and awareness.

Lessons Learned

Merck for Mothers was launched in 2011 during the United Nations General Assembly, following extensive discussions with researchers, health workers, government officials, NGO leaders and foundations around the world. These meetings and country visits as well as the guidance of an advisory board of global health experts continue to guide Merck for Mothers’ strategic direction, including how the company can make a distinctive contribution to save women’s lives. Merck for Mothers engaged a team with expertise in measurement of maternal mortality from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to conduct a robust evaluation of the initiative and contribute new knowledge to advance the maternal health field. Results of the evaluations will be made public.

Results to Date

  • Merck for Mothers has pledged more than $110 million to initiate over 30 projects in more than 20 countries and collaborated with more than 75 implementing partners and advocacy organizations.
  • Merck and PATH —a leading non-governmental organization in global health innovation—evaluated nearly 40 technologies designed to ensure a safe pregnancy and childbirth in settings with limited infrastructure. As part of this collaboration, PATH created a novel assessment tool that examines criteria such as health need, commercial viability, cost, and ease of use to determine which technologies may have the biggest impact on women’s health.
  • Merck for Mothers has started innovative programs in India, the country with the highest number of maternal deaths, as well as Uganda and Zambia (as a founding partner of Saving Mothers, Giving Life—an ambitious public/private partnership to quickly and dramatically reduce the number of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa).
    • Within one year of Saving Mothers, Giving Life’s launch, the number of pregnant women delivering in health facilities increased substantially in the pilot districts and hundreds of health workers in both countries have been trained to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care.
  • Later this year, efforts will begin in the U.S. to understand why maternal deaths are occurring, improve clinical practice in emergency obstetric care, and strengthen community-based efforts to link pregnant women with pre-existing conditions to care.
  • Merck for Mothers is collaborating with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand access to family planning.

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