Helping moms safely deliver their babies

March 1, 2019

Share this article

article hero thumbnail

Two strangers meet at a race and connect over common ground to save and improve women’s lives.

“I love to run, but more than that, I love meeting people who are as passionate as I am about saving and improving lives,” says Pam Polino, executive director, scientific affairs at Merck. “That’s why I headed straight over to the Miles for Mothers tent as soon as the 5K race was over.”

It was there that Pam met Debora Bossemeyer, global program leader for Jhpiego, a nonprofit health organization and Johns Hopkins University affiliate that partners with Merck and other companies to save lives, improve health and transform the future of women and their families.

Although maternal mortality has declined in the past decade, the World Health Organization estimates that 830 women around the world die every day from preventable causes related to childbirth and pregnancy.

Jhpiego and others are working to change those statistics. “No woman should die giving life just because she lives in a poor country,” says Debora.

Better together

Our company provides support to many women’s health initiatives around the world. Through Merck for Mothers, we have supported Jhpiego programs that reduce maternal mortality and improve access to quality health care for women and girls in six countries.

Jhpiego is one of more than 100+ partners in 30 countries with whom the Merck for Mothers initiative partners. Since 2011, the initiative has increased access to quality maternal health care and family planning services for over 7 million women.

In addition, through our Merck Fellowship program, employees share their unique skills to advance health care. In Africa, for example, Pam worked on a project that helped show how lives could be saved with “mothers’ shelters,” or structures built near health centers to give women immediate access to health care when they go into labor.

“When the private and public sectors work together, we achieve so much more,” says Pam. “We save lives. And that’s a race we all want to win.”

Watch Pam and Debora’s story


Watch this short video to hear more about the chance meeting between Pam and Debora and their passion for running and helping women.

Globe icon

A global call to action

Working to end maternal mortality is one of the ways we are helping to advance the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The goals include 17 urgent calls to action to improve health, peace and prosperity for people everywhere.

Merck for mothers logo


Visit Merck for Mothers to learn more about efforts underway to help women across the globe have healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries.

Jhpiego logo

A big name with a big purpose

Jhpiego, founded 45 years ago, works with partners like our company to help women and families in more than 50 countries get high-quality health care services. Learn more