"Merck for Mothers" Joins Global Community to Apply Scientific and Business Expertise in Support of UN Goal to Decrease the Maternal Mortality Ratio by 75 Percent
NEW YORK, N.Y., September 20, 2011 - Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced that it will join United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and heads of state at the UN later today to launch "Merck for Mothers," a long-term effort with global health partners to create a world where no woman has to die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth (merckformothers.com). The launch includes a 10-year, half-billion-dollar initiative that applies Merck's scientific and business expertise to making proven solutions more widely available, developing new game-changing technologies and improving public awareness, policy efforts and private sector engagement for maternal mortality. Merck President and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier will make the launch announcement during the UN's Every Woman Every Child high level event.
"Companies are often treated with suspicion when they enter the realm of global development, but they are playing a central role in improving the lives of women and children. Every Woman Every Child has shown what can be achieved through close cooperation among the UN, governments and the private sector," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "A great deal has been achieved in the last year, but progress must be accelerated if we are to achieve our goals of saving 16 million lives by 2015. I am delighted that despite difficult economic times, many governments, companies and civil society leaders are making significant commitments to Every Woman Every Child. These are smart decisions -- visionary leaders recognize the value of investing in the health of women and children."
In September 2010, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health supported by Every Woman Every Child – a global effort to improve the health of women and children. Merck, in concert with the UN and its partners, has committed to help tackle Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5. The UN's MDG 5 aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent and create universal access to reproductive health.
"We are joining the fight to save women who risk their lives giving birth and making it part of Merck's mission," said Mr. Frazier. "'Merck for Mothers' will help us make a difference in the lives of more people in more parts of the world. By helping to address one of the world's oldest and most preventable global health tragedies, we believe 'Merck for Mothers' will have an important impact on society. We also believe it will provide valuable learnings to our business. We are in this fight for the long term."
Mr. Frazier credited Merck Chairman Richard T. Clark with having a vital role in driving the development of the initiative. "Because of Dick Clark's leadership and vision, Merck now has a new way to deliver on the company's mission of saving and improving lives," he noted. "Dick's passion for creating 'Merck for Mothers' is consistent with the focus he has had on corporate responsibility throughout his five years as CEO."
In the next decade, an estimated three million women may die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Most of the deaths associated with maternal mortality 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.
"Merck is breaking new ground for women and their families. This commitment is extraordinary in its volume, its scope and its vision for the long haul. More than half of all deaths during pregnancy and childbirth result either from excessive bleeding, or from complications related to high blood pressure, as well as from a lack of access to family planning," said Dr. Carole Presern, a midwife, and Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) Director. "While there are many proven solutions, there is no silver bullet for maternal mortality. Faster progress requires access to known solutions that can be implemented at scale; new products that can leap frog over the challenges we face today; and a relentless drive on global advocacy to reduce maternal deaths."
Merck's new initiative is grounded in intense listening and learning and in transparent collaboration with healthcare workers and experts on the front lines. Based on input from more than 100 experts in the field, Merck developed a strategic framework identifying where the company will focus its people and resources.
"Merck for Mothers" will focus on the two leading causes of maternal mortality (excessive and uncontrolled bleeding after childbirth, known as post-partum hemorrhage, and life-threatening high blood pressure during pregnancy, known as preeclampsia) as well as family planning, which is known to play an important role in reducing maternal mortality. The initiative will be guided by input from both an internal steering committee and an external advisory board. Merck will hold itself accountable for the initiative's programs and outcomes by ensuring that an independent organization will monitor and evaluate its efforts. The three main approaches for the long-term initiative include:
Accelerating Access to Proven Solutions
Merck intends to improve the quality and supply of diagnostic, prevention and treatment interventions for post-partum hemorrhage and preeclampsia. In addition, the company will strengthen medical education for skilled birth attendants, help develop sustainable models for health delivery and expand access to family planning.
Drawing on its history of discovering innovative, life-saving medicines and vaccines, Merck will collaborate with partners to develop game-changing maternal health technologies for widespread use in resource-poor settings. Merck will start with an assessment of more than 30 promising existing technologies in partnership with leading donors, NGOs and researchers, with a goal of developing at least three innovations that address post-partum hemorrhage, preeclampsia and family planning.
Global Awareness and Advocacy
Merck will join leading maternal health experts to create greater public awareness of the need to reduce maternal deaths in an effort to improve global and national policy. Merck also will work with leading NGOs and multilateral organizations to advocate for broad private sector engagement. As part of "Merck for Mothers", Merck is pleased to be among the first companies to join the UN Global Compact/UN Foundation's Private Sector Task Force for Every Woman Every Child.
Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
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