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“When we think of our own families, we know that even one preventable death is absolutely unacceptable.” — Ken Frazier

Five years ago, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched “Every Woman, Every Child,” an unprecedented global initiative to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world. “Every Woman, Every Child” pulled together the resources and assistance of a diverse array of collaborators — from governments, corporations, community organizations, philanthropic foundations, the healthcare workforce, and academics among others — to focus on the health of women and children, especially during childbirth and in the first few hours and days afterwards when they are the most vulnerable.

On Tuesday, March 10, the Secretary-General presented the progress report for “Every Woman, Every Child” at the UN Headquarters. The advances were promising: Since 1990, maternal deaths have been cut by almost half with 17,000 fewer children deaths each day. And since 2010 alone, 2.4 million women’s and children’s lives have been saved.  As noted in Mr. Ki-moon’s forward in the report, “[These numbers] demonstrate what can be achieved when we work as a community with a focus on partnership, accountability and innovation.”

Mr. Ki-moon was joined on stage by Merck Chairman and CEO Ken Frazier; Ms. Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Mr. Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, among others. Together, they shared their progress on reducing maternal and infant mortality, as well as the work that still needs to be done.

“Public-private partnerships are one of the most promising ways to help stop the tragedy of women dying giving life,” said Mr. Frazier, who noted that although Merck for Mothers has pledged $500 million over 10 years to help eradicate maternal mortality, more needs to be done. “I believe that these commitments must go beyond dollars, important as funding is,” he said. “I truly believe that the private sector has both the obligation and the opportunity to share its skills and knowledge to help solve some of the world’s most daunting health care problems.”  

During his remarks, Mr. Frazier included several advancements from the Merck for Mothers program, including:

  • Helping to improve access to quality maternal health care and family planning services for an estimated 3.5 million women in 30 countries in just three-and-a-half years.
  • Watching maternal mortality ratios in targeted areas fall by 30 and 35 percent respectively with Merck’s partners in Uganda and Zambia.
  • Scaling up of an innovative supply chain model to increase access to family planning methods through Merck’s partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Senegal.  Thus far, we have achieved 64 percent national coverage, enabling approximately 1,000 health facilities to serve over 2.6 million women.

Merck continues to be steadfastly committed to helping ensure women and their families around the world have every chance possible to live healthy, happy, fulfilling lives. As Mr. Frazier noted in his closing remarks, “We have come a long way but there is still much to be done. We must never lose our focus on the health of mothers and children. When we think of our own families, we know that even one preventable death is absolutely unacceptable.”

Merck for Mothers

Through our 10-year, $500 million Merck for Mothers initiative, we are working in more than 30 countries, including the U.S., to decrease the number of women who die or suffer from severe complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.



Replay of the “Every Woman, Every Child” event at the UN Headquarters.

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Visit Merck for Mothers  to find out more about Merck's efforts to save mothers' lives