Thank You, Mama Maria

By Mary-Ann Etiebet, Executive Director, Merck for Mothers This piece originally ran on Huffington Post. The article takes a look at how a midwife working for PACE, PSI’s network member in Uganda, is fighting one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world. Growing up, Mary Gorret Musoke, later nicknamed “Mama Maria,” was the only girl in

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Mama Angel

Worth a Follow: Merck for Mothers

By Etiti Ayeni, Digital Marketing Consultant, PSI PSI likes to give shout-outs to our partners, peer organizations, and global health influencers working everyday to make good health a reality for men, women and children around the world. One of our partners, Merck for Mothers, promotes the health and well-being of mothers through private sector quality, accessibility and affordability

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Private Sector Engagement in Global Health: More than Just Dollars

By Dr. Naveen Rao, Lead of Merck for Mothers A cornerstone of the just-adopted Sustainable Development Goals is integration. Poverty, health, education, climate, gender and other global issues are inextricably linked and interdependent components of a sustainable planet. Let’s also take the notion of integration to heart as we determine how to achieve these ambitious goals.

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Making Private Health Facilities Safe and Welcoming for Mothers and Newborns in Uganda

By Rebecca Firestone, Senior Research Advisor, PSI Sarah Hasifa Nalukwago is a trained midwife at St. Apollo Health Center just outside Kampala, Uganda. Many clients walk in looking specifically for her, as she’s worked at the facility for eight years. St. Apollo Health Center, in Wakiso district, is part of the ProFam social franchise operated

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Why Stories are Important to NGOs

By Kaylin Fabian, Online Fundraising and Communications Coordinator, PSI NGOs usually have an easy time talking about the details of their interventions. Some, like PSI, pride themselves on providing data and evidence to prove their efficacy. But when it comes time to telling a meaningful story that shows the impact of their work, too many NGOs

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Health Worker

Health Workers in Uganda Take Family Planning to the Next Level

By Kaylin Fabian, Online Fundraising and Communications Coordinator, PSI “Every time Ana sees me, she gives me free bananas.” That’s how one Ugandan woman thanks Huston Bireetwa for helping her learn about-and get-family planning. Huston says, “Ana gave birth every year, though she and her husband were very poor. When her kids were old enough, they

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Business as Unusual

Exploring the role of local businesses in reducing maternal mortality

Women turn to both public and private providers for maternity services, and providers come in many shapes and sizes, as illustrated by the gallery above. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine conducted the largest-ever analysis of where women are seeking family planning, antenatal care and labor and delivery services. The study took place

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Smart Investments in Maternal Health

Impact interviews Dr. Naveen Rao, lead of Merck for Mothers. In 2011, Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, created Merck for Mothers, a 10-year, $500 million initiative to reduce maternal mortality globally. Rao shares his thoughts on public-private partnerships and the importance of engaging local partners in efforts to improve maternal

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Merck for Mothers Teams up With PSI to Improve Private Healthcare in Uganda

Merck has officially launched the Merck for Ugandan Mothers Program (MUM), a partnership with Population Services International (PSI) and its local affiliate, the Program for Accessible Health, Communication and Education (PACE), to improve the private delivery of maternal healthcare in up to 30 districts in Uganda. The program is expected to reach more then 150,000 pregnant women over three years.

Approximately 4,700 Ugandan women die each year due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, making maternal mortality one of the country’s most pressing – and preventable – public health challenges. While Uganda’s maternal mortality rate has declined substantially since 1990, the likelihood that a woman will die while giving life in Uganda is approximately 50 times higher than in the developed world. That is part of the reason why Merck identified Uganda as one of its priority countries for its Merck for Mothers initiative, a long-term, $500 million effort to reduce maternal mortality worldwide. MUM is the first of five country program launches that Merck is expected to announce this year.

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Will a New Private-Public Partnership Ease the Burden of Maternal Mortality?

By Deputy Editor Tom Murphy

Millennium Development Goal 5 outlines a three-quarters reduction in maternal deaths by 2015. The world is behind on the mark and will require rapid changes in order to meet the target. Among the many events, panels and announcements that took place at last week’s Child Survival Call to Action, one of the biggest came from pharmaceutical giant, Merck.

A multi-partner effort, Saving Mothers, Giving Life will support the aggressive reduction of maternal mortality in countries with the highest mortality rates. The partners are putting some serious money behind the effort to the tune of $200 million over five years. The founding partners include the US Global Health Initiative (GHI), Merck for MothersAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), Every Mother Counts (EMC), and The Government of Norway.

Of the estimated 3 million women that die from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth, the majority take place in the developing world. Of that total, 90% of maternal deaths are believed to be avoidable. Hundreds of thoudsands of lives can be saved by focusing on the countries with the highest burden of maternal mortality. “A mother’s death is a tragedy because it destroys one of the most fundamental human connections – the bond between a mother and her child. Compounding this tragedy is the way this death unravels families and communities. The effects of a mother’s loss can echo for generations. Merck is supporting Saving Mothers, Giving Life through our Merck for Mothers initiative because we need to make a change,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck’s chairman and CEO.

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Christy Turlington Burns and Dr. Rao Discuss How Merck for Mothers will Deliver Lifesaving Global Health Solutions

A recent World Health Organization report showed some promising growth in reducing global maternal mortality. It found that the rates declined to 287,000 in 2010 from the 358,000 maternal deaths reported in 2008. That dramatic decline in lives lost is reason to celebrate. However, the report shows that there is plenty of work to be done.

Christy Turlington Burns, Founder of Every Mother Counts, sat down with Dr. Naveen Rao of Merck, leader of the theMerck for Mothers initiative, while at the GBC Health conference in New York last week. PSI will be collaborating with EMC on a Merck for Mothers project in Uganda.

In the conversation shared in the Huffington Post, the two discuss the WHO study and what it means for maternal health. Here is an excerpt:

Christy: So what are your thoughts on the new WHO data?

Naveen: These latest figures are clear progress in the fight to save women’s lives and everyone who worked so tirelessly should be applauded for this wonderful achievement. However, I say that with a major caveat: this reduction in maternal mortality is still not swift enough. As the WHO report states, maternal mortality has decreased by 3.1 percent per year since 1990; that is far below the 5.5 percent annual decline needed to reach MDG 5. The findings demonstrate that we know what works and these efforts are clearly having an impact — which is affirming. Now, we must accelerate this momentum so we can close the gap as rapidly as possible. To do so, we need to think more creatively about how multiple sectors can work together to leverage our respective strengths.

Christy: Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

Naveen: As we all know, maternal mortality is a complex issue that requires multifaceted solutions. Put simply, no one sector can tackle it alone. What we need is a more concerted effort among government, the business community and civil society — one that harnesses the unique capabilities of each sector to address this issue head on. This of course aligns with the vision outlined in the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Christy: Tell me a bit more about Merck for Mothers and why Merck has decided to take on this issue.

Naveen: Maternal mortality is one of the oldest global health crises in the world, and as you well know, it is one that continues to touch everyone — no geography is spared. We at Merck saw this issue as one where we could make a significant impact. We have committed our human and financial resources, research skills, business expertise and capacity for innovation as part of a 10-year initiative called Merck for Mothers. We have three strategies to help the world reach MDG 5: 1) making sure new, innovative maternal health technologies get into the hands of health providers as quickly as possible; 2) increasing women’s access to life-saving solutions, especially in countries with a high burden of maternal deaths; and 3) building support among policymakers and the public alike so we can more rapidly move the needle on reducing maternal mortality.

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