PAHO and Merck to work together to improve maternal health in the Americas – PAHO/WHO

New York City, New York, September 20, 2023 (PAHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today signed a letter of intent on a potential collaboration to improve health care and maternal health outcomes for women and mothers in the Americas.

“We are pleased to initiate discussions on this collaboration that could help reduce maternal deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO Director said. “In a region of limited resources, the private sector is an important partner in achieving universal health coverage,” he added.

Around 8400 women die each year in Latin America and the Caribbean from complications related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Most of these deaths are preventable. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a 20-year setback in progress towards ensuring maternal health in the Region. In 2020, there were 68 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, below the regional target of 30 deaths per 100,000 live for 2030.

“We believe in the power of partnerships to improve global health and deliver on our company’s mission to save and improve lives. We recognize the critical role that PAHO plays as a regional leader in promoting and protecting health in the Americas. We are excited about this opportunity to collaborate with PAHO to accomplish our shared goals of improving health throughout Latin America and the Caribbean”, affirmed Carmen Villar, Merck’s Vice President, Social Business Innovation.

As well as improving the capacity of health care workers and health systems in the Region to improve maternal health, the PAHO/Merck collaboration could also advance health equity and expand access to health in areas beyond maternal health.

About PAHO

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of its population. Founded in 1902, it is the world’s oldest international public health agency. PAHO serves as the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American System.

About Merck for Mothers

Merck for Mothers is Merck’s global initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life. Applying Merck’s business and scientific resources, Merck for Mothers works with grantees and collaborators to improve the health and well-being of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the months after. Merck for Mothers is an initiative of Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ, USA. For more information, visit


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