MSD for Mothers is MSD’s US$500 million initiative to create a world where no woman has to die giving life. Applying MSD’s business and scientific resources, we collaborate with partners to improve the health and well-being of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Additionally, in 2012 we launched the Global Grants Program – our corporate grants initiative through which our offices around the world can support eligible nonprofits working to improve maternal health – designed to be responsive to local needs and extend our reach in many more locations across the globe. Here are some examples of that support:
Around the world, women are rapidly entering the global supply chain workforce in countries where the unmet need for women’s and reproductive health is high, including the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and others (Gereffi, 2010). Today, more than 190 million women work in global supply chain-related jobs across 40 countries (World Employment and Social Outlook). Certain sectors – including agriculture, textiles, and electronics – have supply chain workforces that are largely dominated by women, making their fields, workshops, and factories ideal settings to expand access to women’s health information and family planning services.
Recognizing an opportunity to fill the critical gap in access to reproductive health services, MSD for Mothers, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and Accenture Development Partnerships, launched the Business Action for Family Planning (BAFP) Project. In the program’s first two phases (2015-2018), the project partnered with 11 private Filipino companies to reach more than 1.2 million women across the Philippines with comprehensive family planning information and services through workplace and community-based programming.
The BAFP Program to date has focused on building capacity in several areas to ensure that women have access to the quality information and services they need. By fostering learning between and among workers in the workplace through education sessions and training peer health educators, women learn about available services and receive trusted counsel in deciding which family planning options are best for them. The program has also built health system capacity by facilitating partnerships with various local public institutions, including health centers, to ensure that the contraception supplies mentioned in the workplace sessions are available and stocked. In addition, the program has conducted management trainings across participating private companies to make the business case for continued investment in worker health and well-being initiatives. BSR assessed the HERproject initiative within the BAFP Program and found that investments in work place women’s health programs through provision of on-site health services resulted in an 18% decline in absenteeism and a 43% reduction in staff turnover. These investments saved an estimated $48,000, equivalent to a 4:1 return on investment.
Based on the program’s initial success, and as a result of new partnerships with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development, the BAFP Program is expanding to its third phase (2019-2021). In this next phase, the program plans to reach an additional 2.5 million people with reproductive health and family planning services, deepen the sustainability efforts of the Philippines-based work, and scale the learnings of the BAFP model to an additional 30 private sector companies throughout the region.
Between 2016 – 2019, Population Services International (‘PSI’) in Vietnam implemented a project funded by MSD for Mothers, aimed at expanding contraceptive choice among underserved women and contributing to the longer-term goal of transforming the family planning options for women in Vietnam. The project targeted the youth, adolescent and un-married women in urban Hanoi and Dong Nai as well as rural married women in Thai Nguyen and An Giang provinces. PSI deployed an integrated strategy that combined direct interventions to improve women’s access to various contraceptive methods with an effort to create an enabling environment for improving reproductive health. The project mobilizes engagement of Ministry of Health (“MOH”), provincial Department of Health, and private sector partners.
The project has trained 128 private clinic providers – including 36 non-OB/GYN – on different contraceptive methods. Of those being trained, the competency of 57 providers was assessed and these providers were supplied with underutilized, modern contraceptive methods to serve the relevant populations in 4 provinces. As a result, 10,869 women received reproductive services.
Under this project, various activities were implemented to equip women with knowledge on reproductive health and to raise their awareness on available contraceptive methods so they can make informed decisions. Messages from the “Choice” campaign were published in relevant public sites such as buses, bus stops, ferries, and billboards, as well as during community, workplace and university events to reach an estimated 1,208,486 women. The project also disseminated information through multiple social media channels and boosted public attention through social influencer testimonials involving admired female artists, online photography/quiz competitions, and a series of illustrations/videos on a Facebook page popular among urban youth.
PSI created a platform to convene related local and international distributors and manufacturers to discuss and collectively assess the potential for increased private sector involvement in addressing family planning concerns in Vietnam. These stakeholders worked with the Vietnam Drug Administration to help expand the contraceptive options available to Vietnamese women. This model of private sector engagement was documented and shared at the consultation meeting with MOH/GOPFP (General Office for Population Family Planning) as input for the National Costed Implementation Plan for Family Planning – Vietnam period 2018-2020. PSI is advocating MOH to work towards a strategy to serve all women with a client-led and expanding-choice approach.