Health

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.

Merck’s health philanthropy concentrates on select disease areas of global need: HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our program investments in these areas 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 U.S.: 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 & 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 (C-MAP)

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. C-MAP 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 established the 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.

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

With a three-year, $650,000 grant from Merck, PSI is implementing a multiyear program in Vietnam to strengthen capacity in hepatitis C (HCV) prevention programming across multiple healthcare sectors. This program aims 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.

In its first year of implementation, PSI reached nearly 4,500 at-risk individuals with HCV-prevention education through a series of outreach events and face-to-face communications. PSI also designed and implemented an HCV-Prevention Master Training Program in collaboration with the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases. The 14 Master Trainers then trained 105 service providers from multiple provinces in which there is a high prevalence of HCV and HIV. These training workshops were designed to promote the integration of HCV-prevention counseling, and referral for diagnosis and treatment, into routine HIV services delivery.

African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)

APOC was established in 1995 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to use a sustainable strategy 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.  In 2012, the APOC partnership led to an estimated 90 million people treated. However, this number will increase because emerging evidence demonstrated that onchocerciasis transmission could be eliminated using MECTIZAN, resulting in the transition from a control to an elimination strategy that will require broader treatment coverage.

While APOC developed the Community Directed Treatment with Ivermectin (CDTI) system to distribute and administer MECTIZAN, the delivery infrastructure established by this program is also being used to deliver other health interventions including Vitamin A, cataract identification, bed nets, immunizations and more. The Government of Nigeria was the first to announce national guidelines in February 2014 to integrate the distribution of bed nets and the distribution of MECTIZAN.

Learn more about the MECTIZAN Donation Program.

The Management and Leadership Academy of the BroadReach Institute for Training and Education

With a $4 million commitment 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 and the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA)1 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. Since the launch of the program in 2011, the MLA program has enrolled a total of 646 participants. To date, almost 60 percent (379) of these participants have graduated, completing the four workshops in the MLA training series. Of these 379 graduates, approximately 47 percent (177) graduated with accredited higher diplomas in management and leadership from NIPA, which has led to national recognition of the MLA program. The MLA certificate and, in particular, the NIPA Diploma, is an accredited health professional qualification that counts toward promotion within the civil service.

BRITE is assessing the effectiveness and outcomes of the MLA program through both qualitative and quantitative methods. Through its program-evaluation efforts, BRITE aims to assess the impact of MLA training on health workers’ management and leadership knowledge, skills and practices as well as the impact on services delivery and health outcomes.

EngenderHealth—Mobile Outreach Program

With a three-year, $651,000 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 Region (SNNP).

In each region, EngenderHealth works in close collaboration with Ministry of Health (MoH) 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.

In 2013, 18 family planning service providers received training to strengthen their counseling skills as well as their provision of mobile outreach services. An additional 83 health workers received basic training on effective family planning methods, counseling skills, and demand-generation strategies to help create a welcoming and productive environment at mobile outreach sites. District reproductive health experts also provided basic training on family planning counseling, client education and making referrals to any of the 180 available Health Extension Workers (community-level providers) from the mobile outreach sites.

Additionally, district-level MoH managers and project staff conducted regular monitoring visits to all host and mobile outreach facilities, using standard checklists to assess and ensure that quality standards are being met in delivering services. To help institutionalize and sustain mobile outreach services delivery, the district-level MoH partners will continue to engage Health Extension Workers in efforts to mobilize clients and strengthen referral linkages.

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.

The Community Health Worker Training Program of the Earth Institute’s Millennium Villages Project

Since 2009, with the support of almost $2 million 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.  During 2013, MVP trained approximately 875 CHWs, including 87 CHW supervisors, who are overseeing nearly 500,000 people across 14 Millennium Villages. Additionally, the MVP-designed mobile health platform, CommCare, is being used to monitor performance of the CHWs.  Compiled in a monthly performance report, these “real-time” data allow managers and program advisors to identify areas for improvement, such as the tracking of vital statistics or quality improvement of case management, and to implement targeted CHW trainings. These data also facilitate the assessment of individual CHW performance, allowing managers to incentivize or promote the highest-performing CHWs and to target performance-improvement efforts for lower-performing CHWs.

More recently, many of the program activities have focused on sustainability and government scalability. For example, in early 2014, the Nigerian government launched a National CHW Scale-Up initiative in Abuja, based on the MVP’s advisory work over the past two and a half years with the Government of Nigeria. The MVP program also helped lay the foundation for a major campaign to expand CHWs and their efforts to help countries achieve the health-related MDGs. In 2013, the Earth Institute launched the One Million Community Health Workers Campaign to expand and accelerate CHW programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

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

With a $5 million grant from the Merck Foundation, Save the Children is implementing frontline health worker training programs in Pakistan and Nepal. 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 and diarrhea, and from complications of pregnancy and birth. Funding also provides support for Save the Children’s Newborn and Child Campaign.

In Pakistan, this project is reaching seven remote and underserved districts (Shangla, Battagram, Haripur, Malakand, Swabi, Buner and Charsadda) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province to increase access to quality, lifesaving maternal, newborn and child health services. This program also supports the National Maternal, Newborn and Child Health program of the Pakistan Ministry of Health. During 2013, 3,796 frontline health workers were trained on essential newborn care (ENC); and 393 frontline health workers completed their training on community case management (CCM) of pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. Overall, 211 ENC training sessions have been conducted: 25 district Trainings of Trainers and 186 trainings of Lady Health Workers (LHWs) in the seven project districts. Additionally, 26 CCM training sessions have been conducted: one provincial Training of Trainers, 19 district Trainings of Trainers and six LHW trainings. In Battagram District, Save the Children, in collaboration with the Pakistan Department of Education, completed the planning and conceptualization of the Accelerated Education Program, which will help 100 women reach the eighth-grade education level so that they can be eligible for training as Lady Health Workers.

In Nepal, this program focuses on increasing the quality and coverage of maternal, newborn and child health services by training frontline health workers in two districts (Baitadi and Bajura) of the Far-Western Region. The project also focuses on strengthening national-level activities to improve the quality of pre-service frontline health worker training on maternal, newborn and child health at Nepal’s health institutes. To date, 574 frontline health workers, traditional healers, Female Community Health Volunteers and other stakeholders have been trained for the Community-Based Newborn Care (CBNC) Program in the Bajura District. To date, in the Baitadi District, 186 health workers have participated in the CBNC Program training; 74 health workers at the Baitadi Public Health Office and 831 Female Community Health Volunteers at the local level also have received training in the CBNC Program.

During 2013, Save the Children continued to advance its advocacy efforts through the Newborn and Child Survival Campaign, raising awareness and mobilizing support to help reduce the number of children dying of preventable and treatable diseases around the world. A part of this campaign includes Every Beat Matters™, a public service campaign done in partnership the Ad Council in the U.S., to provide Americans with a concrete way to help in the effort to end preventable child deaths through the training of frontline health workers.

Pneumococcal Disease Prevention and Capacity-Building

Over the course of three-year, phased programs in Nicaragua and Honduras, Merck committed to donating 1.7 million doses of PNEUMOVAX® 23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent) and to providing 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 has improved the capacity of each national immunization program by training health workers to plan and implement successful vaccination campaigns. Project HOPE also has provided 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 2013, the program had trained a total of 5,046 health workers in Nicaragua and 1,675 in Honduras. As of the end of 2013, 100 percent of the donated doses of PNEUMOVAX® 23 had been distributed and more than 95 percent of doses had been administered to patients in both countries. The program in Nicaragua officially concluded in June 2013 and the program in Honduras officially concluded in May 2014. The project has also fostered cross-border sharing of best practices and lessons learned between the National Immunization Program counterparts in each country.

CMMB—Global Health Systems Strengthening Program

In late 2011, Merck provided $100,000 in funding to the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) for its 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 contributes directly to the World Health Organization’s stated health-system strengthening (HSS) goal of improving norms, standards, procurement, policies and quality standards for medical products.

As in 2012, Merck funding supported GHSS training activities in Haiti in 2013. The first of two training sessions targeted administrators of clinics and facilities who would receive product from the CDAI (Centres Départementaux d’Approvisionnement en Intrants) warehouse in Les Cayes. The second training included staff responsible for procurement and inventory management for the same clinics and facilities. Seventy participants from 48 different consignees attended the trainings. In addition, personnel from the Ministry of Health co-facilitated the trainings with CMMB. The end result of the workshops was improved knowledge around the policies and procedures of the CDAI (current system as well as new Ministry of Health tools) as well as reinforcement of best practices in inventory management. A small portion of the Merck funding also supported facility upgrades at the Les Cayes facility.

1 NIPA is the national academic institution whose mandate is to build capacity in the Zambian civil service.

CARE USA—Bridging Health and Education Programs for Children

With a $3 million grant 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 and 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.

Over the past three years, the ECDC project has adapted Essential Package materials and developed culturally-relevant intervention packages that are being implemented in Chhattisgarh, India; El Salvador; and Honduras. In India, in 2013, 200 anganwadi workers (AWWs) from all 200 project-area anganwadi centers (AWCs) received two rounds of training on ECDC, early childhood stimulation approaches and skills for planning preschool education. Through more than 4,000 AWW home visits, mothers received individual counseling regarding early childhood development and techniques to ensure their children’s future developmental and academic success. More than 2,900 women participated in self-help groups (SHGs) to improve their leadership and business skills and awareness of early childhood development. Members of the SHGs now support anganwadi workers during home visits.

In El Salvador and Honduras, The Essential Package was adapted to meet specific community needs and implemented at five levels: national, community, child care settings, households and with individual children. During 2013, the project team trained more than 1,826 health workers in strategies to reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality rates, including the Helping Babies Breath (HBB) strategy, the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), and the STABLE program for the stabilization and care of premature babies. The project also helped strengthen the skills of 2,707 staff at the Salvadoran Institute for Children and Adolescents (ISNA) through a series of trainings on ECDC, child nutrition and strategic planning to improve their implementation of The Essential Package. Additionally, Save the Children in Honduras and ISNA have delivered more than 32,000 neonatal kits to 12 hospitals across the country.

Both CARE and Save the Children work closely with communities and governments to build capacity and strengthen their approach to integrated care. For example, in India, CARE participated in discussions to formulate a national policy framework for early childhood development and care. In 2013, a national ECDC policy was introduced, and CARE, along with other agencies, is working closely with the Government of India to promote successful implementation of this policy. In El Salvador, Save the Children’s work with the Ministry of Health informed the national plan to reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality and the developmental screening tool for children under five, which is now being implemented at the national level by the MoH.

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 at 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 Inn has hosted more than 11,500 children from all over the U.S. and from 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, completed in 2004, increasing The Inn’s capacity to 59 rooms. Merck employees also have 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 more than 116 children and their families from 11 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, and eight other countries.

In early 2014, the Merck Foundation pledged an additional $5 million over five years (2014–2018) to help support the operations of The Woodmont House as well as a new pilot “isolation” project that is underway at The Woodmont House and The Inn. This pilot project is designed to accommodate families with children who must be isolated from the general pediatric population to avoid potential infections that would severely impact children with compromised immune systems.

Last Updated August 7, 2014