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Merck for Mothers Receives Spirit of Motherhood Award

Merck for Mothers honored by Philadelphia partner Maternity Care Coalition for efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity

Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director, Merck for Mothers, accepting the Spirit of Motherhood Award from JoAnne Fischer, Executive Director, Maternity Care Coalition

Did you know that among the 10 largest U.S. cities, Philadelphia has the highest prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease and the second highest prevalence of diabetes and obesity? Sadly, these chronic conditions can put pregnant women at a higher risk for potential life-threatening complications, which is particularly concerning for the two-thirds of pregnant women in Philadelphia who have limited resources and access to care. In fact, in the Philadelphia area, out of 100,000 births each year, approximately 18 women die as a result of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

To help improve maternal health for Philadelphia moms, Merck for Mothers is working with local nonprofit Maternity Care Coalition to fund the Safe Start MOMobile, a home-visiting program that connects community health workers with at-risk pregnant women to provide health education and support, both during and after pregnancy. Learn more about the issue and the MOMobile in a Philly.com article (11/21/13).

On February 28, 2015, Merck for Mothers was honored for its efforts both in the U.S. and globally with Maternity Care Coalition's Spirit of Motherhood Award.

JoAnne Fischer, Executive Director of Maternity Care Coalition said, "Merck for Mothers global initiative to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity truly embodies the spirit of the award. We are inspired by their work to bring together community organizations, the scientific and medical community and others who are contributing their expertise and raising awareness so we can protect and save women as they give life."

"We are humbled to receive MCC's Spirit of Motherhood Award," said Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director, Merck for Mothers. "Mothers are the cornerstone of our society and we are honored to be working with amazing organizations, like the Maternity Care Coalition, to ensure healthy women, healthy communities and healthy nations."

This program is one of several that Merck for Mothers is supporting in the U.S. to reduce rising maternal mortality rates. As part of its initial commitment of $6 million, Merck for Mothers is working with partners in 16 states on a variety of projects, including:

  • Developing new models of care for pregnant women with chronic conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, that are focused on leveraging community healthcare workers;
  • Strengthening the processes for reviewing maternal deaths to better understand why they are occurring and use those learnings to improve care; and
  • Addressing the lack of standard guidelines to manage obstetric emergencies through the development of "safety bundles," toolkits that include processes and checklists designed to help address the three leading causes of maternal deaths in the U.S. So far, guidelines have been distributed in five states, reaching 250 hospitals.