As a global healthcare company, Merck believes it has a responsibility to help increase access to medicines, vaccines and quality healthcare worldwide.

In this effort, we are committed to discovering smart, sustainable ways to expand access, especially in parts of the world where there is limited or no healthcare infrastructure and resources. Given the immensity of this challenge, we believe we can make the strongest contribution by working in partnership with others—governments, donors, patient organizations, healthcare professionals, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, multilateral organizations and the private sector. Through these partnerships, we provide our expertise, human and financial resources, and products to improve the quality and capacity of global healthcare. Our support helps advance the quality of health services delivery, strengthen training for healthcare providers and foster efforts to empower patients as active participants in managing their health.

In 2012, Merck conducted a strategic review of its giving history and program portfolio to refine our focus areas and strengthen the impact of future philanthropic investments. As a result, we will be narrowing the scope of our health philanthropy to concentrate on select disease areas of global need: HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our future programming in these areas will focus on innovative ways to improve healthcare quality, capacity and access for underserved populations who are particularly burdened by these diseases.

Merck Childhood Asthma Network (MCAN)

With funding from the Merck Foundation, MCAN supports programs that help increase access to and improve the quality of asthma healthcare for children. These programs also advocate for and recommend public policies that can expedite the implementation, dissemination and sustainability of science-based asthma care. Learn more.

Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes

With funding from the Merck Foundation, Alliance program partners are working to decrease disparities in diabetes outcomes and improve the quality of healthcare for underserved adults living with or at risk for diabetes in five communities in the United States: Camden, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Wind River Reservation, Wyoming. Learn more.

African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP)

In 2000, the Merck Foundation/Merck and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships to support Botswana’s national HIV/AIDS strategy for preventing new HIV infections and reducing morbidity and mortality associated with HIV/AIDS. The comprehensive approach includes prevention, treatment, care and support.

China-MSD HIV/AIDS Partnership (CMAP)

This partnership between the Merck Foundation and China’s Ministry of Health is implementing a comprehensive program to address HIV/AIDS in Sichuan Province, China. CMAP focuses on developing effective approaches for delivering prevention, care, treatment and support services.

HIV Care Collaborative

To help improve HIV care in the United States, the Merck Foundation launched a three-year initiative—HIV Care Collaborative for Underserved Populations in the U.S. This initiative supports the efforts of local health departments in Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Texas; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to connect more people living with HIV to the care and treatment they need to stay healthy.

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)—PMTCT Training Program

The François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center’s School of Nursing, at UMDNJ, and the Botswana Ministry of Health, with support from the Merck Foundation, are working to build capacity and clinical knowledge among clinician trainers tasked with providing district-level training to healthcare workers in Botswana. These healthcare workers are responsible for scaling up services in the following areas: prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV; infant and young child feeding (IYCF); and early infant diagnosis (EID) of HIV. These services support the health-related needs of an estimated 42,000 women who deliver each year in Botswana, with a focus on the approximately 14,000 pregnant or recently delivered women (per year) with HIV and their HIV-exposed infants. To date, approximately 110 healthcare workers have been trained through this program.

Population Services International (PSI)—HCV Prevention and Capacity Building Program in Vietnam

With support from Merck, PSI is launching a multiyear program in Vietnam to strengthen capacity in hepatitis C (HCV) prevention programming across multiple healthcare sectors. This program is designed to improve access to HCV prevention information and education among at risk populations to help motivate the adoption of HCV preventive behaviors. Through advocacy and capacity building efforts, this program also aims to raise awareness and build support for the expansion and integration of HCV prevention services into national public health programming.

African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)

APOC was established in 1995 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to control onchocerciasis (river blindness) in Africa using Merck’s MECTIZAN® (ivermectin), a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication that treats and prevents the spread of river blindness. In 2008, Merck committed $25 million over eight years to the World Bank in support of APOC’s continued development of country-led river blindness efforts. APOC will operate through 2015 and intends to treat more than 100 million people each year in 19 African countries, working to prevent more than 40,000 cases of river blindness each year and eliminating transmission of the disease, where feasible. Learn more.

BroadReach Institute for Training and Education (BRITE)—Management and Leadership Academy

The Merck Foundation is supporting implementation of the BRITE Management and Leadership Academy (MLA) in Zambia. The MLA program teaches critical management and leadership skills to healthcare professionals in order to build and strengthen the capacity of their local healthcare systems.

EngenderHealth—Mobile Outreach Program

With a three-year (2011–2013) grant from the Merck Foundation, EngenderHealth is working to build the capacity of health workers and implement mobile outreach services in order to increase the availability and accessibility of effective family planning and reproductive health services among underserved, rural populations in Ethiopia. This program helps improve maternal and child health outcomes in 15 remote districts in three regions of Ethiopia: Amhara; Oromia; and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) Region. In each region, EngenderHealth works in close collaboration with Ministry of Health partners to strengthen the capacity of health-program managers and service providers. These capacity building efforts facilitate the introduction and sustainability of high-quality family planning services through regular outreach at decentralized health facilities that otherwise could not offer these services. EngenderHealth also works with selected community-based organizations, in each of the three regions, to conduct trainings for community-level health providers and volunteer “health agents.” The trainings help equip community health providers and volunteers to provide information and counseling on effective family planning through peer-group discussions.

During 2012, 42 family planning service providers received training to strengthen their counseling skills as well as their provision of mobile outreach services. An additional 69 health workers received basic training on effective family planning methods, counseling skills, and demand-generation strategies to help create a welcoming and productive services delivery environment at mobile outreach sites. District reproductive health experts also provided basic training on family planning counseling, client education and referral to more than 330 Health Extension Workers (community-level providers) from mobile outreach sites. To date, the Mobile Outreach Program has provided services to more than 2,150 underserved women residing in some of the most remote districts in Ethiopia.

Millennium Villages Community Health Worker Program

Merck Foundation funding supports implementation of Columbia University Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Community Health Worker Training Program, which helps strengthen community health services through a professional cadre of health workers across 14 sites in East and West Africa.

Merck Vaccine Network—Africa (MVN-A)

With support from the Merck Foundation, MVN-A training programs have worked to improve childhood immunization coverage and strengthen the capacity of vaccination programs in Kenya, Mali, Uganda and Zambia. Through collaborative partnerships, the MVN-A programs provided mid- to high-level immunization-program managers with training in vaccine management and immunization services. Merck Foundation support for MVN-A concluded in 2012.

Save the Children Federation, Inc.—Frontline Health Workers Program

A five-year (2011–2015) funding commitment from the Merck Foundation to Save the Children is supporting frontline health worker programs in Pakistan and Nepal as well as advocacy efforts for Save the Children’s Newborn and Child Survival (NCS) Campaign. When properly trained and supported, community health workers, midwives and health assistants can help reduce the rates of maternal and infant mortality caused by preventable and treatable diseases, such as pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea, and complications of pregnancy and birth.

In Pakistan, Save the Children has laid the groundwork for the training of frontline health workers in some of the neediest areas of the country. With project staff and a strategic implementation plan in place early in 2012, the program conducted its first Essential Newborn Care and Case Management “train-the-trainer” program in Islamabad for Lady Health Workers (doctors, Lady Health Visitors, medical technicians, and district health department staff). Similarly, in two districts of Nepal, Baitadi and Bajura, the project initiated the development of an implementation plan and the clinical training of health facility workers on the Community-Based Newborn Care (CBNC Program). In the Baitadi District, a total of 186 health workers participated. Additionally, training on the CBNC Program was conducted for 74 health workers at the Baitadi Public Health Office and for 831 female community health workers at the local level. Importantly, advocacy efforts advanced through the Newborn and Child Survival (NCS) campaign. A part of this campaign included the launch of Every Beat Matters™, a public service campaign with the Ad Council in the United States, to give Americans a concrete way to help achieve the goal of ending preventable child deaths through the training of frontline health workers.

United Nations Foundation—Measles Initiative

The Measles Initiative has contributed to saving lives by supporting 80 countries in delivering more than 1 billion doses of measles vaccine. Since 2008, Merck has supported the Measles Initiative with $2.5 million in grants to advance disease surveillance in Africa and India.

CARE USA—Bridging Health and Education Programs for Children

With support from Merck, CARE USA is continuing its collaboration with Save the Children to serve young children and their families in resource-poor areas through the “5×5 Model” for early childhood development care (ECDC), which addresses child development, health, nutrition, child protection and economic empowerment. As part of this three-year initiative, CARE created The Essential Package, which provides a framework and specific tools to address the needs of vulnerable young children from conception through primary school. CARE developed and implemented the first version of The Essential Package, based on a home-based model of services delivery in Africa, in the initiative’s first year.

In the second year, CARE completed a community-needs assessment in India and Central America, and adapted The Essential Package to address those needs. For example, formative research in Chhattisgarh, India, revealed obstacles to maternal and child health, such as limited access to hospitals caused by distance or lack of physical infrastructure (e.g., roads and bridges). These findings informed the expansion of The Essential Package to include new materials and additional modes of service delivery suited to India. The project also coordinated with existing maternal health and nutrition programs, as well as with the country’s Ministry of Women and Child Development and other partners. More than 200 anganwadi workers, 1,000 Panchayati Raj Institution members and 600 women’s self-help group (WSHG) members have been trained on the importance of early child development and techniques to ensure children’s future development and academic success.

In El Salvador, The Essential Package was adapted to meet specific community needs, particularly in areas with high levels of poverty, and implemented at five levels: national, community, child care settings, households and individual children. During 2012, the team trained 809 people in the Helping Babies Breath (HBB) strategy, 486 people implementing the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) and 292 people working in the STABLE program for the stabilization and care of premature babies. Activities related to health, basic sanitation and nutrition have been implemented in 49 direct intervention communities. Additionally, Save the Children in Honduras and at the Salvadoran Institute for Children and Adolescents have delivered more than 18,000 neonatal kits in 14 hospitals throughout the country. They have also trained 794 health workers from 28 hospitals on issues related to neonatal mortality.

The Children’s Inn at NIH

Merck provided $3.7 million through a public-private partnership for the initial construction of The Children’s Inn on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s premier biomedical research center, in Bethesda, Maryland. The Inn opened in 1990 and, since then, seriously ill children involved in treatment at the NIH have had a place to call home.

Most children who come to the NIH for treatment are facing life-threatening illnesses that resist conventional therapy. Since its opening, The Children’s Inn has hosted more than 11,500 children from all over the United States and more than 80 other countries. The Merck Foundation helps cover The Inn’s operating costs, and also provided a grant of $3.7 million to build a 22-room addition to The Inn, completed in 2004, increasing The Inn’s capacity to 59 rooms. Merck employees have also generously supported The Inn through personal contributions as part of Merck’s Partnership for Giving (P4G) program.

The Merck Foundation pledged $5 million over five years (2009–2013) to support the establishment of a transitional home adjacent to the NIH campus, called The Woodmont House. This home can accommodate up to five families at a time whose children are no longer in the acute phases of illness yet still require treatment at the NIH Clinical Center. Families stay free of charge and may participate in all of The Inn’s activities and programs. To date, The Woodmont House has served 51 families from 11 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, and eight other countries.

Sesame Workshop—“Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget”

Through this multiyear initiative, Sesame Workshop helped families learn how to nurture their children’s development through good nutrition, even with limited household resources. The Food for Thought program was developed during recent challenging economic times to encourage children to eat healthy foods and be physically active, and to provide resources for helping children and adults make healthy food choices. Food for Thought outreach kits were launched in December 2010 and continue to be distributed by Sesame Street. With support from the Merck Foundation and UnitedHealthcare, Sesame Workshop developed and distributed more than one million Spanish and English Outreach Kits that included “Super Foods,” an original video featuring the Sesame Street Muppets. Kits were distributed through the National WIC Association, Feeding America, the National Head Start Association and Witnesses to Hunger (Drexel University), as well as through hundreds of local partners in rural, suburban and urban areas, including schools and local food banks.

The Field Research Corporation conducted an independent evaluation in 2011 of the impact of the Food for Thought Outreach Kits. The findings revealed that the kits had had a significant, positive effect on families’ knowledge, behaviors and attitudes about how to cope with food insecurity and maintain healthy eating habits. For example, three out of four families reported that, as a result of using the kit, they were now serving meals with more fruits and vegetables and having their children participate in shopping and meal preparation. Further, nearly all participants in the program found the kits helpful and were motivated to seek information and support in stretching their food dollars, and in making healthier food choices. By supporting children who experience hunger, and by providing their families with strategies for healthier eating on a budget, Food for Thought has helped to contribute to important behavioral changes among children and their families.

Drexel University School of Public Health—Center for Hunger—Free Communities

With a multiyear grant provided by the Merck Foundation, Drexel University School of Public Health supports the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, which uses innovative approaches to treat and prevent child hunger and improve low-income families’ access to healthy food. The Center’s model program, Witnesses to Hunger, has enabled mothers and caregivers of young children who have experienced hunger and poverty to be in the forefront of advocacy as witnesses. These efforts have helped shape future approaches to addressing hunger and poverty beyond policy change. The Center plans to expand the Witnesses to Hunger model beyond Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; and Baltimore, Maryland; to other communities throughout the United States. Merck’s support has helped the Center build its capacity, expand its reach and outreach, and establish a reputable presence and impact for its continued work in helping women and their children who are living in vulnerable communities.

University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research

In 2012, Merck concluded its final phase of funding to the University of Kentucky’s Center for Poverty Research for the project “Grandparents, Grandchildren, and Hunger in the U.S.: Assessing Food Insecurity in Multi-generational Households.” The Center’s final report yielded useful data and conclusions on links between food insecurity and family structure, adult poverty, negative health outcomes and low nutrition intake—all data that can be useful to public policy makers, program administrators and health professionals. This research resulted in the publication of four reports:

(1)  A Portrait of Food Insecurity in Multigenerational Households

(2)  Family Change and Transition in Food Insecurity Among Multigenerational Households

(3)  Food Insecurity and Health Outcomes Among Multigenerational Households

(4)  Health, Heat or Eat? The Effect of Food Insecurity on Consumption in Multigenerational Households

The findings from this important work can help to support nutritional assistance efforts for those households facing increased food hardship, especially those in multi-generational settings.

Last Updated September 23, 2013