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Joining Global Leaders to Fight Maternal Mortality

December 22, 2014 – This fall, Merck for Mothers participated in several important global events focused on improving maternal health.

U.N. General Assembly

In September, along with PSI and the World Bank, we co-hosted a panel discussion called Business as Unusual: Exploring the Potential of Local Health Businesses to Reduce Maternal Mortality. The event featured the release of new maternal health data by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which showed that a substantial proportion of women go to local health businesses for their antenatal and delivery care as well as family planning services.

The panel featured leading global health experts to discuss the role these providers and businesses could play in reducing maternal mortality, making for a dynamic conversation about an often overlooked area of the maternal health infrastructure. Panelists included Merck for Mothers' Dr. Priya Agrawal, PACE-Uganda's Zacch Akinyemi, the World Bank's Dr. Tim Evans, Devex's Raj Kumar, USAID's Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez and former Botswana Minister of Health Joy Phumaphi.

Check out a short video of the event here, and the first in a series of five papers published by the London School on their research.

Global Conference on Social Franchising for Health

The Honorable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie (center), with Jennifer Chan (left), Vice President, Policy and Communications, Merck Canada, and Dr. Priya Agrawal (right), Executive Director of Merck for Mothers, in Ottawa for the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health annual general meeting. (CNW Group/Merck Canada Inc.)
During the 2014 Global Conference on Social Franchising for Health, we partnered with the University of California, San Francisco's Global Health Group to co-host a pre-conference session, "Delivering Affordable, Quality Maternal Healthcare — Is Social Franchising a Solution?", to explore social franchising's potential for improving access to quality, maternal health services.

Social franchising may provide a great opportunity to leverage the local private health sector by helping standardize services and improve quality of care. However, while social franchising has had success in offering affordable family planning and primary health services, relatively few social franchises have taken on maternal health services, especially labor and delivery, given its complexity and inherent risks.

The session provided a forum for those working in social franchising to share their experiences in franchising maternal health services, with special attention to unique considerations in ensuring quality maternal healthcare. By sharing strategies and lessons learned across a variety of contexts, we hope to help unlock the potential of the local private sector to deliver affordable, quality care for more women around the world.

Annual Meeting of the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (CAN-MNCH)

Executive Director Dr. Priya Agrawal delivered a keynote speech on behalf of Merck for Mothers at this year's meeting of the Canadian Network for Maternal Newborn and Child Health. She spoke about the importance of engaging the private sector to improve maternal health and the various ways companies can contribute value in addition to funding. Specifically, she noted how Merck for Mothers has leveraged the company's business expertise to help local health providers expand and improve their practice, and how we're tapping our capacity for innovation to advance maternal health technologies.