Access to Health

Access to Health


Access to Health

We recognize that we cannot address complex public health challenges on our own, but must address the barriers to access where we believe we can make the strongest contributions.

Our Commitments

We recognize that strengthening health systems and building health workforce capacity are important to improve access to quality health care and to help address underlying barriers to health. Through innovative approaches and partnerships, we will invest our expertise, human resources, financial resources, products and market-based solutions to:

  • Support capacity-building, including health care professional training, to deliver health care solutions
  • Address underlying barriers to health, such as health-system strengthening
  • Pursue programs to provide direct access to our medicines and vaccines when market-based solutions are inadequate or unavailable

Despite efforts to develop and implement effective business and philanthropic strategies to help remove barriers to access, challenges remain to the complex and multifaceted nature of the problem. To address these challenges, the international community must pool its resources and expertise to strengthen health care systems, ensure adequate financing for health, and help build local health care capacity. Even in developed countries, challenges remain to reach groups of underserved populations.

Examples of our community investment follow:

MSD for Mothers is a 10-year, $500 million initiative focused on improving the health and well-being of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth. Learn more.

The MSD Fellowship for Global Health is a three-month, field-based corporate pro bono program that is designed to leverage the skills and talents of our employees worldwide. Learn more.

In 2015, we initiated a three-year partnership with the Australian NGO One Disease to fight scabies among indigenous populations. Funding from our company and another donor is supporting the work of two skin-health nurses to identify and manage the severe form of scabies in East and West Arnhem Land. The nurses will assist in training local clinics and educating both clinics and households with recurrent scabies problems. The lessons learned will be used to develop best-practice guidelines for scabies management across the country. Learn more.

In March of 2016, our company and the MECTIZAN® (ivermectin) Donation Program donated $1 million to the END Fund in support of efforts in Africa to eliminate river blindness (onchocerciasis). The donation will enable participating countries to enhance their in-country technical expertise necessary to prepare for a period of post-treatment surveillance that is needed before an application can be submitted to the World Health Organization (WHO) for official elimination verification status. While three countries in Latin America have already received WHO verification of elimination of river blindness, no countries in Africa have yet achieved this goal. Learn more.

For additional examples of our support for health care capacity-building and health-system strengthening activities, please visit the Key Initiatives, Giving—Health, Women’s Health and Vaccines pages.

We also recognize that adequate solutions are not always available when patients need them. And while we do not believe that donating medicines alone is a sustainable, long-term solution to the global challenge of access to medicines, we recognize that millions of patients need medicines now. For that reason, we remain committed to donating our medicines and vaccines through organized programs, as appropriate.

The primary programs involving donations of our products are: our Medical Outreach Program, the MECTIZAN Donation Program, and our U.S.-based Patient Assistance Programs.


Community Investment20112012201320142015
Health care workers trained through our major programs and partnerships152,00038,00022,000137,00018,669
Investment in partnerships for activities that address underlying barriers to health, such as health-system strengthening and capacity-building (in millions)1$35$24$24$32$31
People reached through our major programs and partnerships (in millions)273269302267188
1Includes investments by the Office of Corporate Responsibility, MSD for Mothers and our company’s Foundation.

In 2015, the reported number of health care workers trained and people reached through our major programs and partnerships decreased. This is in part due to the planned conclusion of our investments in several programs, including the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP), the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), the GARDASIL® Access Program and the Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Community Health Worker Training Program.

We anticipate developing several new programs or partnerships within our community investment portfolio, and will report on these initiatives in future reports and ongoing communications.