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MSD moves for improved maternal health care

Committed to increasing access to health care, global pharmaceutical company MSD launched the “MSD for Mothers” initiative to make available scientific expertise and solutions, improve public awareness and private sector engagement for maternal mortality.  In its mission to save and improve lives, “MSD for Mothers” is a 10-year commitment aimed at saving mothers from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth.  The long-term program is part of MSD’s corporate responsibility approach of discovering smart, sustainable ways to expand global access to health care.
Partners for maternal health. In photo, (from left) Patrick Bergstedt, MSD AP president; Undersecretary David Lozada Jr., Health Department (DOH); Former Secretary Ezperanza Cabral, Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) Board of Trustee; Undersecretary Ted Herbosa, DOH ; Ambassador Roberto Romulo, ZFF Chairman; Doctor Jacqueline Flores-Kitong, World Health Organization; Professor Ernie Garilao, ZFF president; Doctor Mary Ann Avalon, provincial health officer, Northern  Samar and Sanjiv Navangul, MSD Philippines president and managing director.
In the Philippines, maternal mortality remains a critical health issue with 11 mothers dying every day from complications of child birth.  These complications can be addressed and prevented through improved access to health care services such as medicines, facilities, skilled attendants.  To achieve this, the required resources and creative energies must be sourced not only from government but also from the non-governmental organizations and private sector as well. Through the MSD for Mothers Global Giving Program, MSD heeded the call and partnered with the Zuellig Family Foundation to help reduce maternal mortality in 21 of the 70 municipalities in the three provinces of Samar Island in the region of Eastern Visayas. “The issue of maternal mortality is one that touches us all, not only in the developing world but also in the most medically advanced nations. Every mother’s death is a human tragedy – and the ripple effects on her family and her community are enormous. Ensuring a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth is important not only for the health and wellbeing of a woman but also for the prosperity of her family, community, and society. It is MSD’s vision to have a world where no mother has to die giving life,” shares Sanjiv Navangul, president and managing director of MSD in the Philippines, on why MSD takes on the advocacy of reducing maternal mortality. Samar is the 5th poorest region in the country with a relatively higher maternal mortality rate – West Samar at 134, Northern Samar at 89, and Eastern Samar at 110.
At the commitment exercise, Undersecretary Ted Herbosa participates in the program.
The first in Asia of the Global Giving program, the MSD-ZFF joint development initiative comprehensively addresses maternal mortality by employing a systematic approach to promote leadership and good governance in achieving maternal health.  This will involve training and coaching for local health leadership team for capacity building, training of regional and provincial health professionals, coaching of municipal health officers and midwives and training of health volunteers, mothers, and pregnant women. For this development initiative, the participation of 62 local chief executives, municipal health offices and community leaders are expected together with 34 health leaders and professionals from the provincial government, Center for Health Development, Social Welfare and Development Dept. and Education Dept.  Aside from improved health and maternal facilities and services, 21 local government units will have functional local health boars and community health teams together with policy, program and budgetary support for ante-natal and emergency obstetric care.  Trained as trainers, 102 midwives will be made ready to share information on antenatal and emergency obstetric care, family planning, diagnostics of child complications, health information and participatory health analysis and planning.  The 1,862 barangay health workers will be trained by midwives as well on maternal health care. At the end of this development initiative with all factors positively present, it is expected that 90 percent of women have sought ante- and post-obstetric care, 75 percent of deliveries were done in health facilities, and that 90 percent of deliveries were handled by skilled birth attendants. With a systematic approach that promotes health leadership and governance in the local government units, the sustainability of this development initiative is assured.  The MSD for Mothers Program is a bold undertaking to improve maternal mortality, and while there is lots of work to be done, MSD is steadfast in its commitment to save the lives of mothers.
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