Merck Foundation Grant Expands Project ECHO® in Vietnam and India


January 18, 2017 9:00 am ET

Project Increases Access to Specialty Care for Complex, Chronic Conditions

The Merck Foundation (Foundation) and the Extension for Community
Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) Institute™ at the University of New Mexico
Health Sciences Center announced today that the Foundation has provided
a grant of $7 million over five years to support the expansion of Project

® to improve access to specialty care for complex,
chronic conditions, such as: hepatitis C, HIV, tuberculosis, and
non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and mental health
conditions, in underserved communities in India and Vietnam.

Project ECHO® is a telementoring model that links expert
specialists with primary care providers through virtual clinics (teleECHOTM
clinics), where the specialists mentor and share their knowledge through
case-based learning and guided practice, enabling primary care providers
to develop the ability to treat patients with complex conditions within
their own communities.

Given the substantial need to improve health care and build health care
providers’ capacity throughout India and Vietnam, this project has four
central goals:

  • Further develop ECHO superhubs in India to provide training and
    technical assistance for ECHO projects throughout Asia;
  • Develop and expand ECHO hubs (specialty teams at academic medical
    centers or other care centers) across India and Vietnam in targeted
  • Work with hubs in India and Vietnam to develop and implement training
    programs for community health workers to further improve the quality
    and availability of treatment and care; and
  • Document the impact of the ECHO model™ on improving access to
    specialty care for patients in rural and underserved areas in India
    and Vietnam.

“At Merck, we value and support our partners who are experimenting with
new health care models and technologies aimed at solving complex health
problems,” said Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, chief patient officer, Merck
and chief executive officer, Merck Foundation. “Project ECHO®
will help to make a meaningful impact on patients living with chronic
conditions in India and Vietnam by empowering local providers with the
specialized medical knowledge they need.”

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous donation from the Merck
Foundation,” said Dr. Sanjeev Arora, creator and director of Project ECHO®.
“Strengthening the skills and capabilities of primary care providers in
rural or remote settings helps to ensure patients receive the right care
at the right place and the right time.”

As part of the initiative, a community health worker program will be
developed to further expand access to appropriate care in rural
communities. The community health workers will join the more than 3,000
doctors, nurses and community health workers currently enrolled in
Project ECHO’s comprehensive disease management programs. To date, more
than 110 partners have launched their own ECHO hubs for more than 55
diseases and conditions in more than 20 countries.

About The Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation.
Established in 1957 by Merck, a global health care leader, the
Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck’s chief source
of funding support to qualified non-profit charitable organizations.
Since its inception, the Merck Foundation has contributed more than $870
million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and
are consistent with Merck’s overall mission to help the world be well.
For more information, visit

About the ECHO Institute

The ECHO Institute, based at the University of New Mexico Health Science
Center, is a groundbreaking approach to increasing access to specialty
care that started in 2003, in New Mexico. ECHO is a lifelong learning
and guided practice model that revolutionizes medical education and
exponentially increases workforce capacity to provide best-practice
specialty care and reduce health disparities. Learn more at
and on Twitter @ProjectECHO.

Merck Media Contacts:
Claire Gillespie, 267-305-0932
Jeanine Clemente, 908-236-5059
Project ECHO Media Contact:
Andrea Bradford, 505-272-5513

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