Merck for Mothers contributes to UNICEF's South African efforts

Merck announced Monday it will contribute nearly $500,000 to UNICEF's initiative to decrease maternal mortality, HIV and tuberculosis prevalence in South Africa over the next 10 years.

South Africa's rate of maternal mortality is 10 times more than what it should be for a country of its economic level and healthcare expenditures. Merck, national and provincial departments of health and UNICEF will work together to improve the health care system for expecting mothers and their children.

"The Merck for Mothers commitment will help UNICEF prevent thousands of maternal and neonatal deaths and avert more pediatric HIV infections in South Africa," President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Caryl Stern said. "Merck is a valued partner that is helping to bring us closer to a day when ZERO children die of preventable causes."

Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, $500 million program worldwide to improve health care for expecting mothers so no woman dies during childbirth. The program uses business expertise, financial and human resources to achieve its goal and provide quality care, innovative products, awareness and advocacy for its mothers.

"Every two minutes somewhere in the world, a woman will die from complications experienced during pregnancy or childbirth. and the real tragedy is that we have the power to prevent most of these deaths," Naveen Rao, M.D. of Merck for Mothers said. "Working together with trusted partners like the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is a critical step along the path to creating a world where no woman dies trying to give life."