MSD for Mothers
A healthy pregnancy and childbirth can lead to a lifetime of benefits, both for a woman’s own health and prosperity as well as that of her children, family, community and nation.
- Launched the MOMs (Maternal Outcomes Matter) Initiative to stimulate, advance and scale social business innovations that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
- Commissioned the Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation to develop the Maternal Health Atlas—a data visualization tool which details global maternal health indicators, trends, key drivers, and factsheets
- Positioned the Manyata quality improvement and quality assurance program on a path to scale in India
- Demonstrated significant reductions in maternal mortality in Nigeria as part of Saving Mothers, Giving Life
- Announced the first ten community-led projects to make U.S. cities safer and more equitable places to give birth as part of the Safer Childbirth Cities initiative
- We are helping to create a world where no woman has to die while giving life
- We are working to ensure that women have access to two of the most powerful means to end preventable maternal deaths: quality maternity care and, in low and lower-middle income countries, modern contraception
- We are focused on strengthening health systems to sustain the delivery of high-quality maternity care services that benefit women and their communities for today and the future
A healthy pregnancy and childbirth can lead to a lifetime of benefits, both for a woman’s own health and prosperity as well as that of her children, family, community and nation. A positive experience during pregnancy and childbirth also builds a woman’s trust in the health care system. Depending on the care she receives, this short period in a woman’s life can either be life-threatening or empowering. Her experience will have an indelible influence on how—and whether—she seeks health care for herself, her newborn and her family.
We call this the “Mom Effect.”
MSD for Mothers is our company’s $500 million global initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die giving life. Applying MSD’s business and scientific resources, we collaborate with partners to improve the health and wellbeing of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. We are working to ensure that women have access to two of the most powerful means to end preventable maternal deaths: quality maternity care and in low and lower-middle income countries, and modern contraception.
Working alongside more than 180 collaborators, MSD for Mothers has reached more than 10 million women in 48 countries around the world. Our approach is to support strengthening the capacity of integrated health systems to deliver high-quality care for women and improve maternal health outcomes.
We are focused on strengthening health systems to sustain the delivery of high-quality maternity care services that benefit women and their communities. We take a holistic approach to address community factors that impact maternal health and strive to leverage the private sector for public good.
MSD for Mothers is working with more than 180 collaborators around the globe. We collaborate across sectors—working with governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), patient groups, professional associations, entrepreneurs, UN agencies, research institutions, other businesses and even other pharmaceutical companies.
Likewise, we collaborate across our company, leveraging our talent to generate fresh thinking and infuse new, business-minded approaches to help solve the longstanding challenge of maternal mortality. We are also mobilizing our employees to raise awareness and champion maternal health efforts. There are now more than 700 employee ambassadors across the world who support MSD for Mothers throughout the year. They work to encourage fellow employees to become involved in volunteer activities in support of our global efforts.
MSD for Mothers sits under our company’s Office of Social Business Innovation and is managed by a team dedicated to helping create a world where no woman has to die while giving life. We have a global advisory board comprised of a diverse group of maternal health, business and development experts that meets annually to help us support programs that aim to improve maternal health.
Programs and initiatives
With our global collaborators, our major achievements through the end of 2019 include:
Raising the visibility of maternal health data
MSD for Mothers commissioned the Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation to develop the Maternal Health Atlas—a data visualization tool which details maternal health indicators, trends, key drivers, and factsheets. Users can explore different threats to health, the effects of age and income, the progress being made in specific countries and more.
Advancing a heat-stable uterotonic
We collaborated with the WHO and Ferring Pharmaceuticals to advance a heat-stable uterotonic (carbetocin) that has lifesaving potential to prevent women from hemorrhaging after childbirth–the #1 cause of maternal death worldwide. Following a global clinical trial of 30,000 women across 10 countries, heat-stable carbetocin was added to the WHO’s Essential Medicines List in July 2019, with further approvals and product availability underway. We are continuing to work with the WHO and Ferring to make heat-stable carbetocin available at an affordable and sustainable price for appropriate cases in the public sector of low- and lower-middle income countries that have a high burden of maternal mortality.
Achieving dramatic reductions in maternal and neonatal mortality in Nigeria
Nigeria is the country with the largest number of annual maternal deaths in the world, representing 23 percent of the global burden.1 Many of these deaths are preventable. Working with the government and through Nigerian-led collaboration, we are pursuing new approaches to strengthen the health system and support national health priorities so that no woman has to die while giving life.
As part of a broader effort with Saving Mothers, Giving Life, MSD for Mothers’ support of Pathfinder International has contributed to a 66 percent reduction in the maternal mortality ratio and a 47 percent reduction in the neonatal mortality rate across 108 facilities in Cross River State, Nigeria in only three years.2 The project is expanding access to quality, comprehensive maternity care–from communities to facilities–using a total health market approach. Today, more than 90 percent of women in the state now have access to quality emergency obstetric care within two hours.3
Improving the quality of maternity care in India through quality certification
India’s number of maternal deaths is the second highest in the world,4 and the majority of private health care facilities–where nearly half of mothers deliver5–are not regulated. To help combat this issue, we worked with our collaborators to establish Manyata, a quality improvement and quality assurance model that helps private maternity providers improve their care and certifies those who consistently meet WHO-aligned quality care standards. To date, more than 600 private providers serving over 350,000 women have become Manyata-certified. With stakeholders in India, the model is being scaled across six states with national accreditation organizations to institutionalize quality standards. Manyata is available in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Manyata has expanded to Rajasthan through India’s first maternal health development impact bond–Utkrisht–a collaborative venture of MSD for Mothers, UBS Optimus Foundation and USAID with Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust and Population Services International as the implementing partners. The Government of the State of Maharashtra in India is also extending the certification process of local private maternity care providers into the public sector with the launch of LaQshya-Manyata, further spreading quality standards for maternity care.
Digital innovations for maternal health
Digital innovation has revolutionized every aspect of life, disrupting existing business models and reshaping the way information and services are accessed, delivered, and experienced. We are accelerating innovation into impact for maternal health through digital innovation, data analytics and key consumer insights, and have created a community of practice for our digital partners.
- In Kenya and India, we are supporting the development and deployment of Nivi—a simple mobile phone-based service that helps women learn about the full range of family planning options, identify the method(s) they want and find local providers who offer quality services and have their preferred options available. To date, more than 300,000 individuals have used this AI-enabled platform to learn about and receive referrals for quality family planning services.
- We supported the development—and now global scale up—of the Safe Delivery App, a smartphone application that gives maternity care providers instant access to evidence-based and up-to-date clinical guidelines on obstetric care and can be used as an immediate life-saving reference during complicated deliveries. Over 100,000 health workers around the world downloaded this app to access evidence-based clinical guidelines for obstetric care.
- With our support, Avegen—a digital health company—launched Together for Her Health in India. The web- and mobile-based platform educates women about quality maternity care and allows women to rate the quality of the services they receive. This feedback, gathered from almost 40,000 reviews and counting, allows health providers to be responsive to their patients’ needs.
Expanding access to family planning in Nigeria
In collaboration with a consortium of local stakeholders in Lagos and Kaduna states, we supported the establishment of a new tiered accreditation system for private drug shops and community pharmacies. The goal is to improve the quality of the family planning services these local businesses deliver and increase access to a broader range of modern contraceptive methods and services in rural and semi-urban areas. The new system is endorsed by the Pharmacist Council of Nigeria and the project has helped build the capacity of nearly 1,200 vendors and community pharmacists.
Collaborating to finance innovation in maternal health
MSD for Mothers is a founding member of The MOMs (Maternal Outcomes Matter) Initiative, a $50M effort to stimulate, advance and scale innovations that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth. Launched in June 2019 along with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Credit Suisse, and USAID, The MOMs Initiative will provide debt and grant capital to local businesses in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia that are working to improve maternal health. LifeBank is being pursued as the first project to receive support through The MOMs Initiative to enable this Nigerian company to expand its delivery of blood supplies by motorbike to women suffering from postpartum hemorrhage.
Improving maternal health equity in the U.S.
The U.S. is the only high-income country where maternal mortality is on the rise.6 Racial disparities are stark and persistent. According to the CDC, Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women.7
Launched in October 2018 by MSD for Mothers, the Safer Childbirth Cities initiative is supporting community-based organizations in cities across the U.S. to implement evidence-based interventions and innovative approaches to help them become safer– and more equitable–places to give birth. The initiative is supporting community-based organizations in U.S. cities with a high burden of maternal mortality and morbidity to improve maternal health and address racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. Today, 10 cities are part of the first cohort: Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Camden, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Jackson, Mississippi; Newark, New Jersey; New Orleans, Louisiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
|Priority country data (cumulative)||2017||2018||2019|
|Facilities strengthened to provide quality care||3,352||4,739||6,738|
|Providers equipped to offer quality care||73,999||135,289||185,254|
|Women empowered to demand quality care||325,859||748,902||1,881,600|
|Women with improved quality of care||2,900,355||3,396,659||3,897,436|
|Women with improved access to modern contraception||3,775,907||4,038,980||6,014,185|
|People with improved access to lifesaving products||15,411,614||15,411,614||15,411,614|
|People with improved access to facilities where quality of care has been improved||21,311,854||29,943,800||52,696,604|
Working alongside more than 180 collaborators, MSD for Mothers has reached more than 10.9 million women in 48 countries around the world since 2011, furthering the global effort to save women’s lives, strengthen health systems and meet the UN SDGs. Our efforts have supported 52 million people in having improved access to facilities where the quality of care has been improved, a demonstration of the ripple effect of health system strengthening that is possible when the quality of maternal health care is elevated.