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Merck's initiative brings awareness to maternal mortality in the United States

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“No woman is left behind,” said Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers. She is also an obstetrician and gynecologist, and global women’s health expert. Agrawal, along with Merck have been working to bring awareness about maternal mortality through a 10-year, $500 million initiative. The initiative will ensure that people are better educated, so that no woman dies while giving life.

Annually in the United States (U.S.) 50,000 women nearly die during pregnancy or childbirth, according to research conducted by Merck. The unfortunate truth is that women aren’t properly educated about the risk factors associated with pregnancy or childbirth. Despite the global effort, maternal mortality continues to increase. Since 1990, maternal mortality has nearly doubled. This is a matter that does not only impact women throughout the world, but it’s of immediate concern in the U.S. as well. Understanding how maternal mortality occurs will have better results on improving the outcome. “One reason for this rising rate is that no one is talking about preexisting conditions,” Agrawal said with confidence.


For example, there are three things that can an impact pregnancy and childbirth, such as if a woman is experiencing excessive bleeding (obstetric hemorrhage), severe high blood pressure (preeclampsia), or blood clot (embolism). Merck wants to ensure that every woman gets the right healthcare, and that if chronic conditions are experienced by women, individuals get connected with community resources and care before and after pregnancy.

Dr. Agrawal said that some women can be identified as high risk. One factor is to assess if a woman has had clotting before. It’s also important to pay attention to other health risk like diet and obesity. “The important message to women is that pregnancy is a risk factor for developing clots. Our blood becomes sticker [during] pregnancy and that’s why [women] are at higher risk.”

In the U.S. maternal mortality is higher than 49 countries around the world. “The Key message for women is to be informed to assure safety. You need to know about your body. Also be actively engaged with [a health] provider to [improve the chance] of a safe and happy pregnancy and child birth,” she said.

Merck’s partnered with organizations in the community, such as Healthy Start to focus on linking women to adequate healthcare. Women with high risk pregnancies are at greater risk for maternal mortality. Every woman should have a plan after departure from the hospital. Merck’s initiative hopes to improve community outreach programs and bring better care regardless of personal situations. The initiative is shared across 50 states. “Regardless of where the woman is she [will] benefit from our program,” said Dr. Agrawal.

As for community involvement, getting educated about maternal mortality and spreading the word helps bring awareness.

“Every maternal death should be counted because if we don’t learn, we don’t improve,” she said.

To learn more about maternal mortality and Merck, visit Merck for Mothers.



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