Merck and Safe Water Network Launch Initiative to Improve Water Access and Help Reduce the Impact of Water-Borne Disease in India
March 20, 2012 8:08 am ET
Collaboration advances Merck’s commitment to fighting disease to help the world be well
Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
and Safe Water Network, announced today the launch of a three-year,
$1.5M partnership to increase access to safe water and reduce the impact
of water-borne disease among impoverished communities in Andhra Pradesh,
India. Safe Water Network is a not-for-profit organization committed to
developing locally owned and operated water-purification systems that
achieve lasting health impact.
This initiative addresses a critical need in India where an estimated 70
– 80 percent of the total burden of disease is related to water
contamination and poor sanitation, and where more than 120,000 children
under the age of five die each year from rotavirus diarrhea alone¹.
“Clean water is fundamental to the world’s health and to Merck’s mission
of fighting disease and helping the world be well. No where is this more
true than in India, which faces a significant challenge related to clean
water,” said K. G. Ananthakrishnan, managing director, MSD India. “Our
partnership with Safe Water Network is a testament of our commitment to
help reduce the impact of water-related illness in India and of Merck’s
overall efforts to improve health globally.”
Building on Safe Water Network’s field activities in the area, this
collaboration will provide clean water to additional villages in Andhra
Pradesh and develop demand generation programs that seek to increase
household usage. Together, Merck and Safe Water Network will also work
to increase awareness of the importance of clean water and hygiene to
drive behavior change.
The campaigns will be assessed to measure the impact on safe water usage
and improved health.
“This partnership aims to expand the impact of our safe-water projects,”
said Kurt Soderlund, chief executive officer, Safe Water Network. “It
will accelerate our work to develop solutions that can be broadly
replicated. The initiative demonstrates how companies like Merck can
play an important role in developing solutions to global water
This collaboration is aligned with Merck’s commitment to addressing
access to clean water, a key component of the company’s corporate
responsibility approach. A signatory to the UN’s CEO Water Mandate,
Merck will apply its core business expertise, advocacy efforts and
employee social responsibility programs to address access to clean water
About India’s Water Challenge
India faces significant water and sanitation challenges. Seventy-five
percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated by human,
agricultural and industrial waste², while half of the country’s
population lacks access to basic sanitation³. Those living in urban
slums and rural environments are most affected. In many areas of the
country, a growing dependence on groundwater for drinking is associated
with a rise in health problems due to fluoride, salinity, water-borne
pathogens, nitrate and other contaminants found in the water. In Andhra
Pradesh, only 31 percent4 of households treat their water before use,
and 43 percent5 of children under the age of five are stunted, a common
result of frequent episodes of diarrhea.
About the Initiative
This joint effort draws on Safe Water Network’s field experience in
India, Ghana and Kenya to address the operating, economic, cultural and
environmental challenges to safe water access. The team will apply a
rigorous method to data collection and analysis to produce effective
demand generation and education methods that can be replicated at scale
The initiative will add a dozen sites to Safe Water Network’s existing
field projects in Andhra Pradesh, which already provide nearly 40,000
people access to clean water. The additional sites will provide safe
water access to another 20,000 – 30,000 people. Each phase of the
initiative will be documented, including the data on health outcomes.
Key findings will be shared with the water and sanitation sector as well
as other organizations to help raise awareness to address the global
Merck and Safe Water Network are also exploring employee volunteer
opportunities as part of the partnership in the areas of health,
behavior change and quality assurance. Merck’s commitment complements
the work of other global organizations that already bring expertise to
various Safe Water Network field projects.
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 on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
The Merck Company Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable
foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse
Station, N.J., USA, the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and
is its chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit,
charitable organizations. Since its inception, The Merck Company
Foundation has contributed more than $600 million to support important
initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with the
company’s overall mission to help the world be well.
About Safe Water Network
Co-founded in 2007 by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman along with
prominent civic and business leaders, Safe Water Network’s mission is to
develop new solutions that provide safe, affordable water to those in
need. Through our field initiatives in India, Ghana and Kenya, we work
with the private and public sectors, not for profits, and universities,
to develop locally owned and managed water systems that can be broadly
replicated. We bring sustained commitment to solving the operating,
economic, cultural and environmental challenges to local ownership and
management. We also document and share this work through reports, forums
and publications. For more information, visit www.safewaternetwork.org
and connect on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
This news release includes “forward-looking statements” within the
meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private
Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include,
but are not limited to, statements about company’s plans, objectives,
expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical
facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and
expectations of Merck’s management and are subject to significant risks
and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the
Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking
statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or
otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ
materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be
found in Merck’s 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other
filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at
the SEC’s Internet site (www.sec.gov).
(1) Tate et al. (2009). “Disease and economic burden of rotavirus
diarrhoea in India.” Vaccine. Vol. 27, supplement 5.
(2) “India Failing to Control Open Defecation Blunts Nation’s Growth,”
Bloomberg, March 3, 2009.
(3) UNICEF and World Health Organization Joint Monitoring Programme.
(4) National Family Health Survey 2005‐2006 state report for Andhra
(5) National Family Health Survey 2005‐2006 state report for Andhra