We recognize that we cannot address complex public health challenges on our own; therefore, we engage in community investment to address the barriers to access where we believe we can make the strongest contributions.

Our Commitments

  • Through innovative approaches and partnerships, we will invest our expertise, human resources, financial resources, products and market-based solutions to:
    • Support healthcare capacity-building, including healthcare professional training, to deliver healthcare solutions
    • Address underlying barriers to health, such as health-system strengthening
  • When market-based solutions are inadequate or unavailable, we will pursue programs to provide direct access to our medicines and vaccines

Despite Merck’s efforts to develop and implement effective philanthropic and business strategies to help remove barriers to access, challenges remain due to the complex and multifaceted nature of the problem.

While Merck does not believe that donating medicines alone is a sustainable long-term solution to the global challenge of access to medicines, we recognize that millions of patients need medicines now and cannot wait for better solutions that would make them more widely available. For that reason, Merck remains committed to donating our medicines, vaccines and consumer health products through organized programs as appropriate. Our primary programs involving a donation of Merck products include: the Merck Medical Outreach Program (MMOP), the Merck MECTIZAN Donation Program (MDP), the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP), and the U.S.-based Patient Assistance Program (PAP). In 2012, we provided over $1.63B in market value of donated Merck products.

To truly address—and, ultimately, solve—the issues of access in developing and middle-income markets, the international community must pool its resources and expertise to strengthen healthcare infrastructure, ensure adequate financing for health and to help build local healthcare capacity through training and support. Even in developed countries, challenges remain to reach groups of underserved populations.

For example, in 2011, the company launched the Richard T. Clark Fellowship for World Health. This global program is designed to leverage the skills and talents of Merck employees to build and support humanitarian organizations that meet the health needs of the underserved. While providing unique career-development opportunities that help employees understand critical needs in different parts of the world, the program aims to strengthen the capacity and reach of charitable organizations by providing technical and hands-on volunteer support, rather than funding alone. Learn more.

Merck recognizes that building the capacity of healthcare professionals is a major factor in addressing global health challenges.


Community Investment 2011 2012
Healthcare workers trained through our major programs and partnerships1 51,600 38,166
Investment in partnerships for activities that address underlying barriers to health, such as health system strengthening and capacity building2 $34.7M $23.8M
People reached through our major programs and partnerships1,3 272.7M 269M
1 “Major” is defined as an investment by Merck’s Office of Corporate Philanthropy and/or The Merck Foundation of more than $300,000 per year and/or an engagement with a national government.
2 Includes investments by Merck’s Office of Corporate Philanthropy and/or The Merck Foundation; also includes funding for nutrition and access to clean water.
3 Includes treatments approved for river blindness and lymphatic filariasis through the Merck MECTIZAN® Donation Program

Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Community Health Worker Training Program

Since 2009, with support from the Merck Foundation, the Earth Institute at Columbia University has been conducting a community health worker (CHW) training program to strengthen community health services for more than 400,000 people in 10 African countries, as part of the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). The initiative aims to advance the development of a professional cadre of CHWs to fill a critical gap in the delivery of primary healthcare for rural communities throughout Africa.

The program helps ensure that participating community health workers are skilled, well-trained, properly remunerated, regularly supervised and fully integrated into their countries’ healthcare systems. To date, MVP has trained approximately 932 CHWs who are overseeing approximately 500,000 people across 14 Millennium Villages. The MVP also expanded the CHW supervisor program in 2012, training 26 new Senior CHWs and retraining an existing 20 Senior CHWs with new tools for conducting observational and shadow visits to strengthen the performance of CHWs.

BroadReach Institute for Training and Education’s Management and Leadership Academy

With support from the Merck Foundation, the BroadReach Institute for Training and Education (BRITE) is implementing its Management and Leadership Academy (MLA) program in Zambia, which teaches critical management and leadership skills to healthcare professionals in order to build and strengthen the capacity of their local health systems. This program aims to equip healthcare workers with the knowledge and skills to lead, own and, ultimately, transform the delivery of healthcare in their own countries. MLA teaches “results-based” management, focusing on solving current challenges by combining on-site workshops with case studies and extensive mentoring of program participants.

BRITE is also working with Abt Associates in implementing this MLA program and is receiving additional support under the USAID-funded Zambia Integrated Systems Strengthening Program (ZISSP). BRITE and ZISSP are working in close partnership with the Ministry of Health in Zambia to support the ministry’s ongoing efforts to develop management and leadership capacity at different levels of the health system. Through the MLA program, BRITE and its partners aim to conduct training for healthcare professionals in all nine provinces, across 27 target districts, of Zambia. The MLA team completed 18 sessions of the first three workshops in the MLA training series. By the end of 2012, approximately 1,200 healthcare workers from various levels of the health system had been trained through these workshops in Zambia.

Merck Vaccine Network–Africa

As part of our commitment to the GAVI Alliance, Merck initiated the Merck Vaccine Network–Africa (MVN–A), a 10-year philanthropic initiative supported by the Merck Foundation to help strengthen the capacity of Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) health workers in sub-Saharan Africa. Formally endorsed by the GAVI Alliance in 2003, the MVN–A supported collaborative partnerships in the development and implementation of sustainable EPI management-training programs in Kenya, Mali, Uganda and Zambia. Through these MVN–A training programs, more than 1,700 EPI health workers were trained across all four countries. The Merck Foundation concluded funding support for the MVN–A in 2012.

Pneumococcal Disease Prevention and Capacity-Building

Over the course of three-year, phased programs in Nicaragua and Honduras, Merck committed to donate 1.7 million doses of PNEUMOVAX® 23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent) and provide charitable grants amounting to $1 million to Project HOPE to support efforts to vaccinate vulnerable populations against pneumococcal infections, a major cause of pneumonia.

In partnership with the Nicaraguan and Honduran ministries of health, and utilizing grant funding from Merck, Project HOPE is improving the capacity of each national immunization program by training health workers to plan and implement successful vaccination campaigns. Project HOPE is also providing vital equipment and supplies to each ministry of health, including refrigerators required for the proper storage of vaccines and computers to help monitor and evaluate immunization activities as the initiatives progress in both countries.

As of 2012, the program has trained 5,046 health workers in Nicaragua and 1,298 in Honduras. As of the end of 2012, 100 percent of the donated doses of PNEUMOVAX® 23 have been distributed and more than 80 percent of doses have been administered to patients in both countries. The remaining vaccines will be administered in 2013, with major national vaccination campaigns scheduled in April in both countries. The project has also fostered cross-border sharing of best practices and lessons learned between the National Immunization Program counterparts in each country.

Catholic Medical Mission Board—Global Health-System Strengthening Program

In late 2011, Merck provided $100,000 in funding to the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) for their Global Health Systems Strengthening (GHSS) program. The goal of the five-year (2012–2016) program is to increase the demonstrated organizational capacity of 25 of CMMB’s developing country partners to manage their pharmaceuticals and supplies in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. The program will contribute directly to the WHO’s stated health-system strengthening (HSS) goal of improving norms, standards, procurement, policies and quality standards for medical products.

In November 2012, Merck funding supported GHSS training activities in Haiti. This training was targeted, but not limited to, small hospitals, health centers and/or clinics that do not have a pharmacist on staff. These facilities are often staffed by personnel with little formal training in the safe handling and management of medicines. Thirty-one participants from 20 different consignees attended the training. In addition, personnel from the Ministry of Health participated and conducted a session of the program. In 2013, the remaining Merck funding will be utilized to conduct a second training in Haiti, provide assistance to the consignees for locally-led action plan development and facility upgrades, and reporting and compliance activities.

United Nations Foundation—Measles Initiative

Since 2001, the Measles Initiative has contributed to saving lives by supporting 80 countries in delivering more than 1 billion doses of measles vaccine and helping to raise measles vaccination coverage to 85 percent globally. In 2008, Merck provided a $2 million grant to the United Nations Foundation to support the Measles Initiative and advance disease surveillance efforts in Africa.

In 2010, we continued our support with an additional $250,000 to support measles immunization and disease surveillance activities in Nigeria during early 2011. More than 28 million children were vaccinated during the measles campaigns in Nigeria, achieving a national coverage level of 99 percent of the target population. Merck’s support enabled the timely notification and investigation of suspected measles cases and outbreaks in the country. Following the immunization campaigns and investigation of outbreaks, the scale of measles outbreaks decreased significantly—by 75 percent.

In 2011, Merck provided $300,000 to strengthen measles surveillance and routine immunization efforts in India. In 2011 and 2012, more than 81 million children were vaccinated through multiple measles “catch-up” campaigns in India.

In addition, many of our partnerships focused on HIV/AIDS are also involved in healthcare capacity-building. Learn more.


Last Updated July 29, 2013