Merck for Mothers Supports UNICEF’s Efforts to Help Save Lives in South Africa

Merck, a longstanding partner of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, has committed nearly $500,000 toward UNICEF’s efforts to protect the lives of mothers and their children in South Africa through its Merck for Mothers initiative. With this support, UNICEF will help improve the quality of and access to low-cost, high impact solutions that address the main causes of maternal mortality in the country, including HIV and tuberculosis.

NEW YORK (June 3, 2013) – Merck, a longstanding partner of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, has committed nearly $500,000 toward UNICEF’s efforts to protect the lives of mothers and their children in South Africa through its Merck for Mothers initiative. With this support, UNICEF will help improve the quality of and access to low-cost, high impact solutions that address the main causes of maternal mortality in the country, including HIV and tuberculosis.

South Africa's maternal mortality rate is an estimated 10 times what it should be given the country's level of economic development and healthcare spending.

Working directly with national and provincial departments of health, UNICEF will create a comprehensive, coordinated approach for maternal and neonatal health, with the goal of increasing the quality of healthcare received by new and expecting mothers, as well as their children. UNICEF will also provide technical assistance and guidance in order to improve access to healthcare for mothers during labor and post-delivery.

In addition, UNICEF will pilot a SMS-based mobile platform that allows community members to provide real time feedback on their healthcare experiences so that health facilities may improve accountability and better serve patients.

"The Merck for Mothers commitment will help UNICEF prevent thousands of maternal and neonatal deaths and avert more pediatric HIV infections in South Africa. Merck is a valued partner that is helping to bring us closer to a day when ZERO children die of preventable causes," said Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, $500 million initiative to create a world where no woman dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Drawing on Merck’s history of discovering innovative, life-saving medicines and vaccines, Merck for Mothers is applying the company’s scientific and business expertise–as well as its financial and human resources–to reduce maternal mortality around the world. Merck for Mothers is focused on access to quality care, product innovation, and awareness and advocacy.

”Every two minutes somewhere in the world, a woman will die from complications experienced during pregnancy or childbirth. and the real tragedy is that we have the power to prevent most of these deaths,” said Naveen Rao, M.D., lead, Merck for Mothers. “Working together with trusted partners like the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is a critical step along the path to creating a world where no woman dies trying to give life.”

For more information on the Merck for Mothers initiative, visit http://www.merckformothers.com/.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:

Andrea Sioris, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9136, asioris@unicefusa.org