Merck Announces “Safer Childbirth Cities” Initiative, Issues Call to Action to Reverse the Rise in U.S. Maternal Deaths


October 1, 2018 7:00 am ET

Merck for Mothers Commits Additional $10M to Support Locally Created Solutions to Improve Maternal Health and Reduce Disparities

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
announced today a new effort to support cities across the country to
help women have a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth. The “Safer
Childbirth Cities” initiative is intended to reduce the number of
maternal deaths and life-threatening childbirth events and narrow
disparities in maternal health outcomes in the U.S. “Safer Childbirth
Cities” is part of
for Mothers

, Merck’s global initiative to end preventable
deaths of women from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Building on its earlier investments to reduce maternal mortality in the
U.S., Merck for Mothers is committing an additional $10m to
improve maternal health across the country.

Through the “Safer Childbirth Cities” initiative, Merck for Mothers
will provide grants to help cities with poor maternal health outcomes
develop and implement creative, multi-sector solutions to save women’s
lives, improve maternal health and narrow disparities. The vision is
that these grants will catalyze additional financial and other resources
to make these cities – and others across the country – safer and more
equitable places to give birth.

Although maternal death rates have declined globally over the past 25
years, the U.S. is one of the only high-income countries where maternal
mortality is on the rise. An estimated 60 percent of these deaths are
preventable, and for every maternal death, nearly 100 women suffer a
life-threatening complication during pregnancy and childbirth, often
with long-term health consequences. Furthermore, staggering racial
disparities in maternal health persist: a Black woman is 3-4 times more
likely to die than a White woman.

“It’s unacceptable that women are dying during pregnancy and childbirth
from causes we can prevent,” said Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, Chief Patient
Officer at Merck. “We are encouraged by the growing attention to this
public health problem and the potential to have an even greater impact
on women’s lives by working closely with local communities across the

Merck for Mothers’ efforts
to improve maternal health in the U.S.
include supporting the CDC to
create the country’s first multi-state
on why these deaths are occurring; evidence-based
to respond to childbirth emergencies in states across the
country; state-based
reviews of maternal deaths
; the first city-wide analysis
of maternal morbidity
; and grassroots programs that link pregnant
women with chronic diseases (including diabetes, hypertension, obesity
and behavioral health conditions) to integrated care.

“Merck has played a catalytic role in drawing attention to the tragedy
of maternal mortality in the U.S. and, more importantly, is helping to
find solutions that will ensure equitable access to care for women
during pregnancy and beyond,” Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, founder of the
National Birth Equity Initiative.

“These deaths represent many failures – not just unsafe medical care but
also inadequate social support in our communities. The “Safer Childbirth
Cities” initiative will help break down silos between sectors to save
women’s lives,” said Dr. Neel Shah, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics,
Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School, and
director of the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs.

“It’s essential that we listen to women, respect their experiences and
act on what we hear,” states Christy Turlington Burns, Founder and CEO
of Every Mother Counts. “Solutions will only be effective at improving
maternal health if they are informed by women’s experiences, values, and

“City-based coalitions work. Here in Camden, New Jersey, we’ve reached
across sectors to ensure that pregnant women get the support they need
for a healthy pregnancy,” said Kathleen Noonan, CEO of the Camden
Coalition of Healthcare Providers – a community-based organization
leading Camden Delivers that links women of reproductive age to
prenatal care and beyond. “The evidence-based interventions that we need
to turn the tide on maternal mortality are going to come from cities.”

Merck for Mothers plans to support a broad geographic range of
cities across the country through grants ranging from $500,000-$1
million to develop cross-sector coalitions, implement evidence-informed
interventions and stimulate creative solutions to improve maternal
health in their communities.

“We are excited to continue to raise awareness about maternal mortality,
and more importantly, move from awareness to action and impact,” said
Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead and Executive Director of Merck for

More information about “Safer Childbirth Cities” initiative and the
application process can be found here.

To learn more about maternal mortality in the U.S., watch Merck for
film, read the e-report
and get involved with an emerging coalition
of maternal health advocates.

About Merck

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical
company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been
inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of
the world’s most challenging diseases. Through our prescription
medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies 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 health care through far-reaching policies, programs
and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of
research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that
threaten people and communities around the world – including cancer,
cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer’s disease
and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information,
and connect with us on TwitterFacebookInstagram,
and LinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA

This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the
“company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of
the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs
and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to
significant risks and uncertainties. If underlying assumptions prove
inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may
differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry
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rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of
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containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained
by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development,
including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to
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and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to
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The company 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 the company’s 2017 Annual Report on Form 10-K
and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange
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Pam Eisele, (267) 305-3558
Carol Richardson, (908) 740-1526
Teri Loxam, (908) 740-1986
Michael DeCarbo, (908) 740-1807

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