African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP)
In 2000, The Merck Company 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 rates associated with HIV/AIDS. The comprehensive approach includes prevention, treatment, care and support.
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.
The Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes
With funding from The Merck Company Foundation, Alliance program partners are working to decrease diabetes disparities and enhance the quality of healthcare for underserved adults living with or at risk for diabetes in five communities (Camden, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Wind River Reservation, Wyoming) in the United States.
BroadReach Institute for Training and Education (BRITE)Management and Leadership Academy
The Merck Company 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 local healthcare systems.
China-MSD HIV/AIDS Partnership (CMAP)
This partnership between The Merck Company 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
In the United States alone, there are still 50,000 new HIV infections each year, and one-third of people living with HIV are not in care. To help address remaining barriers to HIV care, The Merck Company Foundation launched a new initiativeHIV Care Collaborative for Underserved Populations in the U.S.supporting the efforts of local health departments in Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Texas; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; to connect more people living with HIV to the care they need to stay healthy.
Merck Childhood Asthma Network (MCAN)
With funding from The Merck Company Foundation, MCAN supports programs that help increase access to and improve the quality of asthma healthcare for children through evidence-based approaches to asthma management and quality-improvement initiatives. These programs also advocate for and recommend public policy that expedites the implementation, dissemination and sustainability of evidence-based asthma care.
Millennium Villages Community Health Worker Program
Our funding supports implementation of Columbia University Earth Institute's Millennium Villages Community Health Worker Training Program, which helps strengthen community health services by developing a professional cadre of health workers across 14 sites in East and West Africa.
The Merck Vaccine NetworkAfrica (MVN-A)
With support from The Merck Company Foundation, MVN-A training programs work 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 provide mid- to high-level immunization-program managers with training in vaccine management and immunization services.
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 “5x5 Model,” 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.
In El Salvador, The Essential Package is being 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. For example, at the community level, Save the Children is working with health workers, volunteers and caregivers to promote healthy early childhood practices, such as handwashing and eating healthy snacks in schools.
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 10,000 children from all over the United States and 82 other countries. The Merck Company 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.
In 2009, The Merck Company Foundation pledged $5 million over five years (20092013) 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 26 families from 11 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, and eight other countries.
EngenderHealthMobile Outreach Program
With a three-year (2011–2013) grant from The Merck Company 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 will help to 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 will work in close collaboration with Ministry of Health partners to strengthen the capacity of health-program managers and service providers, to introduce and sustain high-quality family planning services through regular outreach at decentralized health facilities that otherwise could not offer these services.
EngenderHealth also will work with selected community-based organizations, in each of the three regions to conduct a series of trainings for 450 community-level health providers and volunteer “health agents.” The trainings will equip community health providers and volunteers to provide information on effective family planning through peer-group discussions.
Foundation of the 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 Company Foundation, are working to build capacity and clinical knowledge among clinician trainers tasked with providing district-level training to healthcare workers in Botswana responsible for scaling up prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV; for infant and young child feeding (IYCF); and for early infant diagnosis (EID) of HIV. These services support the health-related needs of an estimated 42,000 women who deliver each year, with a focus on the approximately 14,000 pregnant or recently delivered women (per year) with HIV and their HIV-exposed infants.
The PMTCT training program aims to:
- Support the development, evaluation and refinement of an effective skills-based training program for 150 clinician trainers
- Ensure that trainers have in-depth knowledge of updated PMTCT and infant feeding guidelines
- Provide trainers and healthcare workers from 650 health facilities with updated PMTCT-, IYCF-, and EID-related job aids
- Create a system of ongoing mentorship and capacity development of trainers—using the FXB Center's "trainings of trainers" model, which helps to improve the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of the training-of-trainers cascade
Through this program, 66 healthcare workers were trained in July and August 2011. Participants from the district of Selibe-Phiwke have since conducted two workshops (in November 2011 and February 2012) that trained approximately 45 healthcare workers.
Save the Children Federation, Inc.
Through a multiyear commitment from Merck, Save the Children will provide more than 20,000 frontline health workers in Pakistan and Nepal with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver more effective maternal, newborn and child health services. It has been shown that when properly trained and supported, community health workers, midwives and health assistants reduced 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, training for more than 13,000 frontline health workers will help to increase access to timely and often lifesaving treatments for more than 3 million children and help provide access to midwifery care for some 40,000 pregnant women. A national effort in Nepal will provide more than 500 instructors at health training institutes with updated curricula and skills training. In addition, Save the Children will provide direct training for more than 6,000 current and new frontline health workers in eight rural districts, preparing them to serve approximately 900,000 children under the age of 5 and approximately 235,000 pregnant women.
United Nations FoundationMeasles 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.
Merck International Partnership Program
The Merck International Partnership Program (MIPP) was a three-year (2009–2011) initiative that provided opportunities for the company to build relationships with key stakeholders and address important health and social issues in three geographic regions: Asia Pacific; Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Latin America.
Merck's Office of Corporate Philanthropy works with these regions on improving the health and well-being of people in emerging and developing markets.
From 20092011, MIPP awarded 53 grants, awards totaling $5.4 million in 27 countries. The funded projects addressed health-related issues such as health literacy, access to healthcare for vulnerable or underserved populations, healthcare inequalities, disease awareness and prevention, and health promotion.
Merck International Partnership Program (MIPP)
The selected Merck International Partnership Program (MIPP) grants below are listed by region and partnering organization.
* Indicates a multiyear grant.
Arogya World (India)*: With support from Merck, Arogya World’s Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Education program implemented a wide range of interventions in six middle schools in Delhi, India, including teacher trainings, interactive classroom sessions, and the use of age-appropriate, culturally relevant materials, such as learning games. During the Year 1 intervention, 2,000 students ages 11 to 14 were taught about diabetes and its prevention. A program evaluation compared the knowledge scores of the students’ surveyed at the end of Year 1 with those gathered at baseline. The results documented an increase in knowledge about diabetes and itsprevention, including awareness that Type 2 diabetes is preventable and that exercise and healthy eating can prevent diabetes. The evaluation also revealed behavioral changes, including increased in physical activity and healthier food choices.
Hyderabad Eye Institute (India)*: A new training program at this institute will prepare 100 to 120 vision technicians to provide primary eye care to underserved populations in remote areas of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, India. Currently, 83 high school graduates are at various stages of the one-year training course, which provides a basic understanding of the workings of the eye and trains participants to identify common eye diseases and promote eye health awareness. Upon completion of the program, which includes six months of classroom learning and six months of supervised clinical training in eye centers, the newly trained technicians will help combat avoidable blindness by providing the "three Rs”Refraction; Recognition of common eye diseases and blinding conditions; and appropriate Referral for additional care.
Institute for Reproductive Health (Philippines)*: The Muntinlupa Youth Health Development Project is collaborating with high school and university staff to improve youth access to high-quality and youth-friendly health information and services. In collaboration with the Philippine Center for Population and Development, the project completed a baseline survey of public high school students and used the major findings to develop training modules. To date, trainings have been provided to 34 school principals and local leaders; 22 guidance counselors and clinic personnel; 33 science teachers; and 45 student leaders. Key topics included high-risk behaviors such as drinking, smoking, drug use and early sexual activity, as well as other issues affecting youth health, including nutrition, dropping out of school and depression.
KN Movement for Good Governance (Philippines)*: By building capacity among 200 local health workers in two villages in the Philippines, a new initiative by the KN Movement for Good Governance will engage the whole community, including local government, in efforts to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Health workers will be trained to understand and communicate the importance of maternal and newborn health and to provide improved referrals to local hospitals. Other elements of the project will include the development of maternity-planning booklets, kits and information campaigns; a new local reporting system and regularly updated database of pregnant women in the two villages; and opportunities for health workers to share best practices.
Mahidol University (Thailand)*: Through in-depth interviews, a team of researchers at Mahidol University conducted a qualitative study of 130 patients, women, girls and policymakers to understand more fully the reproductive health needs of Thai women and the barriers they face in accessing healthcare. Upon completion of the study, the researchers developed specific recommendations for needed changes in reproductive health education, prevention, and services delivery. The team is preparing health education sessions in six provinces and forming an advisory board to guide the broader dissemination of its key findings.
Philippine NGO Support Program (Philippines)*: This program aims to improve access to health information and services for women, children and families in two underserved communities in La Union, Philippines. During 2011, this program provided health education to more than 30 local officials and 350 village residents, and formalized its relationship with the local government of La Union in order to help its communities to respond to their own health needs in the future.
Real Medicine Foundation (India)*: Working to prevent and treat malnutrition among children under five in Madhya Pradesh, India, a Merck-supported program trained 55 local tribal women as community nutrition educators. Together with program staff, the educators went door-to-door across 600 of the villages most affected by childhood malnutrition and identified more than 27,000 children with severe or moderate acute malnutrition. To date, the project has conducted more than 3,800 village-based nutritional information sessions for more than 21,000 people; provided counseling on malnutrition prevention and treatment to more than 94,000 individuals; and referred more than 540 children to the public Nutrition Rehabilitation Centers. The project has documented a 54% improvement rate in children under the age of five suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and a 65 percent improvement rate in those suffering from sever acute malnutrition.
The Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre (Thailand): Thailand Gets Tested, a media campaign that encourages regular HIV testing among the general Thai public, is drawing on experts in the areas of HIV/AIDS and public relations to develop effective HIV/AIDS messages and a strategy for disseminating them to the public. The results of a pilot campaign will be used to refine the messages and prepare them for broad-based implementation.
Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa
APOZ (Bulgaria): The Association of Cancer Patients and Friends (APOZ), based in Sofia, Bulgaria, is running a national awareness campaign for responsible sexual behavior, U Ch00se, that uses creative ways to raise awareness and change community norms, such as a slogan competition, arts-based workshops and social media tools. The campaignwhich includes information about contraception, health attitudes, prevention of sexually transmitted infections, and the importance of regular check-upsstresses personal choice and urges youth to choose wellness over risk of disease. Young people ages 11 to 25 are the primary audience for the campaign, but outreach is also targeting potential partners, school staff, and healthcare professionals, including experts in the field of sexual and reproductive health.
Community Health and Information Network (CHAIN) (Uganda): To increase health literacy in Uganda, CHAIN, a Uganda-based civil society organization, is collaborating with patient and consumer organizations to implement public awareness campaigns tailored to specific health issues, including cancer, epilepsy and diabetes. In consultation with government agencies, consumer associations, media outlets and community-based organizations, these health literacy campaigns will be carried out at the community level.
Health and Development Foundation (Russia)*: To improve reproductive health among youth ages 15 to 17, the Everything That Concerns You program provides education about family planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. In partnership with more than 5,000 teachers, healthcare providers, social workers and psychologists, the program will offer trainings and seminars to 100,000 young people in more than 50 cities throughout the Russian Federation. Capitalizing on the prevalence of mobile phone use among Russian teens, the project will also provide mobile educational content by inviting youth participating in the school-based trainings and workshops to subscribe voluntarily to text-messaging services. Ad-free and content-rich text messages will provide accurate and relevant information about reproductive health and encourage participants to learn more by visiting doctors and counselors, accessing Web-based resources, and calling hotline numbers.
Hrvatski Savez Dijabetickih Udruga (HSDU) (Croatia): Through HSDU, children ages 9 to 16 with diabetes children are able to attend 10-day residential summer camps where they are offered recreational activities, education about the disease, emotional support and an opportunity to connect with other children living with diabetes. A staff of trained medical professionals, including experts in diabetes, a pediatrician, nurses and others work to balance participants' insulin dosages with carefully monitored physical activity and diet. The children participate in specially designed activities that provide them with the information and encouragement they need to manage their health.
Human Network International (Madagascar)*: Hundreds of thousands of women of reproductive age in Madagascar are using mobile phones to learn about modern methods of family planning, including information about birth spacing, contraception and how to access local health services. An interactive voice-response information service and SMS, or text, service provide each caller with automated questions that lead to specific, relevant content developed in conjunction with the Madagascar Ministry of Health. Any mobile phone user in Madagascar can use the service free of charge, and to date, more than 540,000 Malagasy have accessed more than 4.7 million minutes of content and requested more than 4.2 million informational texts.
Israel AIDS Task Force (Israel): Through community outreach and capacity building, an initiative of the Israel AIDS Task Force is promoting awareness, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Israel's Ethiopian community. The project helps to support and empower Ethiopians living with HIV through group activities, health and nutrition counseling, individual therapy, and the dissemination of printed materials in both Hebrew and Amharic. Media campaigns directed at Ethiopians in their neighborhoods are transmitted via local newspapers, special publications and websites. Community-based institutional and leadership development related to HIV/AIDS outreach, particularly among young people, is designed to strengthen local involvement, increase effectiveness and promote sustainability.
Israeli Association for the Study of the Liver (Israel): The National Hepatitis C (HCV) Awareness & Education Campaign is providing patients, their families and the general public with information about HCV testing, transmission, complications and prevention. The campaign entails radio advertising, journal articles and other public relations activities; a call center that provides information to the public on HCV; a website that provides downloadable educational tools and opportunities for users to ask questions of professionals about HCV; and distribution of public information materials through primary care clinics.
Lebanese Red Cross (Lebanon)*: The HIV/AIDS Program of the Lebanese Red Cross is a collaboration with 34 youth centers throughout Lebanon to raise awareness about the prevention, transmission and treatment of HIV and AIDS. Each year, peer educator candidates attend specially designed training camps, where they learn strategies for combating both the spread of HIV and discrimination against those living with the disease. Upon completion of the training, educators return to their local communities to help plan and implement awareness-raising activities—anything from theater productions and art competitions to lectures and workshops. Annual recruitment of new members and a train-the-trainer program help to build local capacity and sustainability.
Lithuanian Osteoporosis Foundation (Lithuania)*: A campaign run by the Lithuanian Osteoporosis Foundation to educate the Lithuanian public about osteoporosis began with a survey to assess levels of awareness about the disease, common risk factors and strategies for prevention. The findings revealed a general lack of awareness about osteoporosis. In response to the need for public information, the campaign includes the launch of a new website, seminars for volunteers from all ten regions of Lithuania, and the creation of print materials for distribution through the new website and public events. A new phone line is also providing callers with information free of charge, including the locations of nearby diagnostic and treatment centers and the names of local specialists.
National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) (Serbia): To improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs, the Introducing Telemedicine in Eastern Serbia initiative is connecting urban medical institutions with primary care clinicians in remote, underserved areas of Eastern Serbia. Physicians, nurses and physician assistants in rural clinics are trained to share information such as x-rays and blood work with city hospitals, where collaborating physicians can help analyze tests, speak directly with patients, make recommendations and provide ongoing consultations. Urban physicians with access to superior equipment and subspecialists can use audio, video and other technology to help their rural counterparts with diagnostic, management and treatment decisions for patients who suffer from complex and chronic diseases and, in some cases, to recommend lifesaving treatments for patients in life-threatening emergencies.
Renasterea Foundation for Health, Education and Culture (Romania): By visiting a mobile diagnostic unit that comes to them, low-income women in underserved regions of Moldavia and Oltenia, Romania, can access safe and free screenings for breast and cervical cancer. Equipped to provide digital mammography, the unit can reproduce exact images and save large amounts of data, allowing mammograms of the same person to be compared from year to year. In order to increase the number of women who take advantage of the free service, a public campaign will seek to raise awareness regarding cervical and breast cancer among more than 100,000 women living in Romania’s poorest regions and to encourage them to get regular screenings for both types of cancer.
The Association for Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Slovenia): To improve quality of life for patients living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, together known as inflammatory bowel disease, a project in Slovenia is providing education, resources and support to current and newly diagnosed patients. In addition, the project is raising awareness among those who are in the best position to facilitate the social integration of those suffering from the disease, including employers, teachers, health care professionals and members of the media. Accurate and current information about the disease will be made available to the public through a campaign that will include print materials, Web resources and a telephone help line.
Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO) (Ethiopia): With support from Merck, the WWO Academy primary school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, provides educational programming, school materials, two meals per day, support services and a summer day-camp program to more than 350 orphans and other vulnerable children, many of whom are affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2011, the school added a fourth grade and enrolled 72 new students. Merck support also enabled the day camp to provide services to 120 children as well as health screenings to 30,000 individuals, students and community members through a WWO-supported health center.
In 2011, the WWO Academy developed mechanisms for evaluating teacher performance, and for assessing the behavior and education of high-needs students, as well as supplemental services to meet those needs, including tutoring and differentiated instruction. An expanded staff now includes two psychologists and two social workers who provide psychosocial support to students in need.
AC Akeke (Venezuela)*: By using improvisational theater as a tool for reaching adolescents who lack access to healthcare, a program is providing youth in Caracas, Venezuela, with the tools they need to make informed, responsible and healthy decisions related to sexuality and contraception. This year, 11 educational programs for youth (including one held in the amphitheater of Caracas' largest shopping center) exploded myths and raised awareness about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The program, which seeks to reach youth in accessible and creative ways, already has 5,300 Facebook friends and more than 15,000 Twitter followers.
Associacion de Diabeticos de Chile (Chile)*: A project team including a nurse and a nutritionist have visited more than 1,300 patients with diabetes in their homes in Chile, providing them with health screenings, information on how to manage their own care, and ongoing support. The team also gathers information about patients' quality of life and works with patients' families to provide guidance around such issues as adherence to treatment plans and physical activity.
Fundación Huésped (Argentina)*: Through the new Latin America Media AIDS Partnership, broadcast media companies and professionals are receiving the training, support and tools they need to help reduce the spread of HIV in Argentina. Content-production assistance and cross-platform campaigns that include social networks and youth-friendly resources are helping to raise awareness, challenge AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, and promote HIV testing. To date, executives, writers and producers in California, Mexico and Bolivia have participated in regional trainings to sensitize media content through script review, access to programming resources and communication with local HIV stakeholders.
INMED Brasil (Brazil)*: In the city of Uberlândia, Brasil, the INMED Partnerships for Children initiative is using school- and community-based interventions to help prevent cardiovascular disease among more than 1,700 at-risk children and 6,000 members of their families and communities. A new hands-on curriculum includes lessons on the Heart, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Heart Attack, Stroke and Diabetes, as well as information on risk factors, how to identify symptoms of disease, and the importance of nutrition and physical activity. To implement the curriculum effectively, trainings are provided for teachers, school food workers, parents, and school and community health workers. Baseline data collected before the program began and compared with data gathered halfway through the first year documented improvement in height- and weight-for-age ratios in 21% of children who were overweight at baseline and in 17% of adults who were overweight at baseline.
InSTEDD (Argentina): In an effort to routinize the administration of childhood immunizations in Argentina, InSTEDD is developing free, open-source, scalable technology to improve service delivery and to help families adhere to vaccination schedules. The technology design, which will enable access through both the internet and mobile devices, will be based on input from a scientific advisory board of public health researchers, policymakers and physicians from both hospitals and community-based pediatric practices.
Instituto Vida Nova (Brazil)*: Instituto Vida Nova is providing health and social services for people living with HIV/AIDS in São Paulo, Brazil. Programs include peer counseling, on-site intake, referrals and therapeutic groups. In addition, healthcare professionals are providing needed psycho-social services to patients at home to help them accept their diagnoses, adhere to treatment, and sustain strong relationships with family and caregivers.
Mexican Institute of Family and Population Research (Mexico): Through interactive, skill-building workshops, 20 health care professionals in Mexico City are developing proposals to enhance services for or prevention or care of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, reproductive diseases and HIV/AIDS. The three proposals most likely to improve health outcomes in one of these areas will be selected to receive technical assistance and support to facilitate implementation.
Pan American Development Foundation (Colombia): Targeting 400 families in the Macarena Region of Colombia, "health brigades" of professionals are improving access to health services and promoting disease prevention through education. During the first year of the project, which provides access to diagnosis, basic medical care and surgery, 1,660 people have obtained access to one or more of these needed health services, and 800 people have received specialized medical care. More than 300 students and 200 teachers have participated in trainings on a range of health topics, including sexuality and healthy relationships. In addition, information has been provided to five health departments for broader dissemination, and 120 children under the age of 5 have participated in preventive care and vaccination sessions.
Trustees of Phelps Stokes Fund (Colombia)*: With 52 high school students in the Pacific Coast region of Colombia already enrolled in the Health Leadership Development Initiative in its first year, the program is on track to exceed its target of graduating 72 students by the end of its third year. The goal of the initiative is to equip and encourage participants to matriculate university health science programs and then to return to their communities as practitioners. To develop this pipeline of Afro-Colombian leaders in health care, the program begins with intensive leadership development, including personal vision statements, standardized-test preparation, lessons in Afro-Colombian history, discussions of leadership models, internships, presentations on community health issues and service learning projects.
Rx to Fight Hunger*
Merck provides nonprofit organizations with multiyear support to develop, implement and share innovative strategies for combating and preventing hunger and malnutrition. Merck also supports a wide range of local and regional organizations that provide children, seniors and families in need with emergency food and long-term strategies for promoting nutrition and health.
Sesame Workshop“Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget”*
Through this multiyear initiative, Sesame Workshop helps families learn how to nurture their children's development through good nutrition, even with limited household resources. With support from The Merck Company 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.
With support from Merck, The Field Research Corporation conducted an independent evaluation of the impact of the Food for Thought Outreach Kits. The findings, released in December 2011, 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. Families also were motivated to seek information and support in stretching their food dollars further and in making healthier food choices. As part of the initiative, Sesame Workshop also introduced a new Muppet, Lily, whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger. By supporting children who experience hunger and by providing their families with strategies for healthier eating on a budget, Food for Thought has contributed to important behavioral changes in children and their families.
Drexel University School of Public Health*
With a multiyear grant provided by The Merck Company 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. Its work includes Witnesses to Hunger, a research and advocacy project that involves mothers and caregivers of young children who have experienced hunger and poverty. With Merck's support, the Center developed the Witnesses to Hunger Expansion Toolkit, which helps other communities develop advocacy groups based on this program model.
During 2011, the Center developed the Use Your Power survival guide for low-income mothers, providing direct outreach services for more than 1,200 families in the emergency department of St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia, and continued its partnership with Sesame Workshop's Food for Thought program.
University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research*
Merck is providing 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 Multigenerational Households." In 2011, the Center completed the first phase of the project with the release of the report: A Portrait of Food Insecurity in Multigenerational Households: Part 1, which documents the determinants and extent of food insecurity among multigenerational households. Findings included a comparison of 2001 and 2009 data that revealed a 23 percent increase in the number of seniors who were "marginally food insecure," a 37 percent increase in those who were "food insecure," and a dramatic increase of 88 percent in the number of seniors who were "very low food secure." Total estimates for 2009 totals included 7.5 million seniors who were marginally food insecure. Continued research will culminate in a final report in 2012.
Redwood Empire Food Bank*
Merck provided multiyear support to the Redwood Empire Food Bank for its innovative Simply Supper project, which creates healthy, easy-to-prepare and affordable meals for food banks across the nation. During the first year of the project, more than 90,000 meal kits were distributed, representing more than 359,000 healthy meals. The project has established ongoing relationships with major food banks and food bank networks. This project also has collaborated with Sesame Workshop's Food for Thought initiative, and participates with community centers that provide meals and dietary information to families. During its second year, the project plans to focus on developing and introducing new meals, doubling production and increasing marketing to local food banks.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey
Merck supports two child-feeding programs through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. The BackPack program sends home supplemental food with an estimated 2,000 children in Newark, Elizabeth, Irvington, Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, Bloomfield and East Orange who are identified by school staff as chronically food-insecure. The Kids Café program operates 13 sites in Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Lodi, Morristown, Montclair, New Brunswick and North Plainfield, New Jersey. Kids Café provides warm, nutritious evening meals and lessons in nutrition to an average of 1,500 school-age children each day, as well as training for program staff in safe food handling and food storage during after-school programs.
Merck supports America’s Grow-a-Row in its volunteer-based efforts to plant, pick, rescue and deliver fresh produce to people in need. To date, the organization has distributed more than one million pounds of farm-fresh produce, thanks to the efforts of its more than 1,000 volunteers. This year, the organization launched the Newark Hunger Relief and Healthy Eating Pilot Program, familiarizing inner-city children with farming and healthy eating. The program also educates people of all generations about matters related to hunger and ways they can help in their own communities.
Meals on Wheels Association of America
Merck provided support to the Meals on Wheels Association of America to launch a television series that draws attention to the issue of hunger among senior citizens. Targeting Americans ages 50 and over, the program, Good Food, Good Deeds, addresses the issue of senior hunger, airs cooking demonstrations of nutritious meals seniors can prepare at home and provides information on available services. The series also gives viewers the opportunity to play a role in giving back to other seniors in their communities. The pilot series, of which The Merck Foundation was the premier national sponsor, generated nearly three million media impressions through a wide range of outlets, including the Today show, MSNBC.com, TV Guide and many others.