MSD for Mothers

MSD for Mothers is MSD’s $650M global initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life. Our approach harnesses the invention and expertise of the private sector to solve a global health challenge. MSD for Mothers is an initiative of Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ, USA. For more information, visit
Intergovernmental Organizations and Multilaterals 4
Bilateral development organizations 2
Government 1
Local NGOs 2
Global NGOs 12
Pharma (non-IFPMA member) 2
Private Foundation or Development Organization 3
Academia or research institute 5
Professional Services 1

As part of our company’s commitment to advance health equity, we are improving maternal health outcomes by increasing access to safe, high quality, respectful care around pregnancy and childbirth. We take a comprehensive and collaborative approach for sustainably strengthening health systems to increase access to quality maternal health care by: (1) supporting quality accreditation of local health providers, (2) developing and deploying private sector innovations, and (3) incorporating local and community-led solutions.

We are bringing the best of MSD to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life. Since 2011, we have:

  • Reached more than 20M women through programs promoting safe, high-quality, respectful care
  • Supported more than 200 strategic investments with more than 165 grantees & collaborators around the globe

Our grantees and collaborators are working across the globe to promote safe, high-quality, equitable and respectful maternity care for people everywhere. Together, we are catalyzing solutions that respond to local needs in the communities being served and harnessing the power of innovations to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life.

Our investments in maternal health strengthen health systems so they can meet the demands of UHC. Since 2011, MSD for Mothers focused on private care, because we acknowledge that both public and private providers must improve the quality of care they offer to promote better — and more equitable — maternal health outcomes. We are working with governments, provider associations, local entrepreneurs and NGOs to help build the capacity of private maternity providers – doctors, nurses, midwives, drug shop owners, community health workers – to deliver high quality care that aligns with national standards. By investing in private maternity providers, we aspire to augment the capacity of national health systems and contribute to the equitable delivery of high-quality maternal health services. Our goal is that all women have a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth regardless of where they seek care.

Health systems strengthening: Strengthening local health systems through multi-sector collaboration

In 2021, MSD for Mothers launched a new global initiative – Strengthening Systems for Safer Childbirth –  to accelerate progress in helping save women’s lives via locally-driven solutions. Coalitions are leveraging the resources, expertise and innovation from the local private sector, from maternal care providers to local entrepreneurs to improve service delivery. The solutions being advanced by each coalition are informed by local women’s needs and preferences which are systematically integrated throughout program design, implementation and evaluation via ongoing feedback loops. Each coalition is working to sustainably strengthen health systems in their geography. They are defining plans for their solution’s financial and operational sustainability, ensuring communities have long-term access to high-quality maternal health care.

Availability: By integrating local private providers into strategies to achieve universal health coverage, we expand the availability of health services to reach more people

Despite an increase in the number of women giving birth in health facilities, maternal deaths are not declining as much as they should, largely due to insufficient quality of care. With support from MSD for Mothers, Avegen — a digital health company — launched Together for Her (TFH) in India. The web- and mobile- based platform educates women about quality maternity care, empowers women to demand the care they deserve, and allows women to rate the quality of the services they receive. This feedback allows health providers to be responsive to their patients’ needs. TFH utilizes a human-centered design approach to help women receive the information they want and need. Providers leverage TFH’ s data driven insights to support risk assessment as well as patient feedback to improve the quality of care they deliver.

Affordability: By investing in innovations that encourage women to plan and save for childbirth, we help patients safeguard against catastrophic health expenditures

When many people fall sick, they pay out of pocket for their health care because they may not have insurance or may not be taking advantage of a social program that is available. In collaboration with the PharmAccess Foundation, MSD for Mothers is supporting the development of MomCare, a digital platform that addresses these challenges by helping a woman track her maternal health journey, improving her ability to complete the full continuum of available health care visits to help assure a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth. To participate in MomCare, providers must be accredited by SafeCare — giving women the confidence that they are paying for quality care. MomCare also helps payers and health care providers better payments and services. They can understand if women are receiving the care they need to maximize positive health outcomes, driving value and ensuring transparency and accountability.

Quality: By focusing on quality, we can foster effective health services so that consumers and payors receive better value

In many low-resource settings, health care workers lack the information they need to deliver high quality maternal health care services. Improving the capacity of health workers to deliver high quality services is essential for improved maternal and newborn health. In collaboration with the Maternity Foundation, MSD for Mothers is supporting the development and global scale up of the Safe Delivery App, a smartphone application that gives maternity care providers instant access to evidence-based and up-to-date clinical guidelines. The app – which is aligned with WHO internal clinical guidelines – provides resources for basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care, supports pre-service and in-service trainings, and can be used as an immediate life-saving reference during complicated deliveries.

Although private maternity care providers offer a large proportion of care, there had been no mechanism to assure the quality of this care. Since 2013, MSD for Mothers has supported Manyata —  a quality certification for private maternity care providers in India based on a quality improvement model that significantly improves private providers’ adherence to WHO-aligned quality standards. Led by the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India, Manyata supports quality improvement efforts among private providers in six states (Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka), where over 1,000 providers have achieved Manyata certification upon meeting quality standards. Manyata also prepares providers to apply for accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers, which entitles them to become eligible for reimbursements from payors. To help accelerate scale-up, Manyata and collaborators are digitizing performance management systems — providing a more comprehensive understanding of the private maternity care sector’s performance. Collaborators are also introducing a business model to make the certification program financially sustainable.

Sustainability: By focusing on long-term access to health, we are supporting lasting impact

In June 2019, we launched the Maternal Outcomes Matter, or MOMs Initiative, in collaboration with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation with a collective goal to improve maternal health in regions of the world where there are high rates of women dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The MOMs Initiative is providing blended financing to small and medium-sized enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to scale the reach of innovations that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth. One of the enterprises that we have invested in is Unjani Clinic.

Unjani Clinic aims to bring quality, affordable health care services to communities across South Africa. By building a successful network of clinics owned and run by nurses, the clinic is empowering black women, improving health care quality and access, and creating employment opportunities in underserved communities. Through the MOMs investment, Unjani Clinic plans to grow their network from 100 clinics to over 1,000 sites by 2030 to deliver maternal health care and other health services to more people across South Africa.

When we invest in maternal health, we ensure that hundreds of thousands of women survive pregnancy and childbirth. When that happens, newborns are more likely to survive, children are more likely to stay in school, women are able to make invaluable contributions to their communities and the workforce, health systems are stronger and nations’ economies grow. Improved maternal health care sets the foundation for women, children, families, communities, and societies to thrive for generations to come.
Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet
Lead, MSD for Mothers
Geographic Reach
  • Global Commitment
Disease Area
  • Women’s and Child Health
See Disease Areas
Target Population
  • Women
  • Marginalized/indigenous people
  • Children
Partner organizations
Intergovernmental Organizations and Multilaterals

United Nations Every Woman Every Child Initiative

World Bank

World Health Organization (WHO)

United Nations Foundation

Bilateral development organizations

US Agency for International Development (USAID)

US Peace Corps


Senegal Ministry of Health

Local NGOs

Right to Care

Foundation for Professional Development

Global NGOs

Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)

Doctors with Africa (CUAAM)

Family Health International




Pathfinder International

PharmAccess Foundation

Population Services International (PSI)

Project HOPE

Women Deliver

World Vision

Pharma (non-IFPMA member)

Ferring Pharmaceuticals

Sinergium Biotech

Private Foundation or Development Organization

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

CDC Foundation

Mexican Society for Public Health

Academia or research institute

Boston University

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

Stanford University

University of Oxford

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute

Professional Services