PADF and Merck Launch Digital Data Platform on Maternal Mortality

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Washington, D.C. (July 14, 2015) – Worldwide, a woman dies every two minutes due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. In an effort to reduce maternal mortality rates, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) partnered with the pharmaceutical company Merck to carry out a two-year initiative in Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia under the Merck for Mothers Global Giving program.

Though the 2002 Millennium Declaration sought to improve maternal health, women continue to die at unacceptable rates, according to the United Nations. With a two-year, $500,000 grant from Merck, PADF examined the challenges related to data collection on maternal mortality in Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico. The result was the development of an electronic toolkit that serves as a clearinghouse for information on maternal mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean. Data is available to the public on

“A world in which mothers can see their children grow and enjoy their childhood is a real possibility if we achieve the prevention of the hundreds of deaths that occur after giving birth,” says Caterina Valero, PADF Senior Programs Director. “Beyond the loss for the child, the death of a mother leaves a legacy of death and poverty. Orphaned children are two times more likely to die before age two and ten times more likely to quit school. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty.”

The goal of the No Mas Huérfanos (No More Orphans) platform is to inform national and regional policies in an effort to improve health care for millions of women. It also aims to share best practices on data collection, strategies for intervention and to encourage international interest and collaboration on the issue. 

Despite vast differences in culture and geographic location, the results from the three pilot countries highlights the impact of social factors on a woman’s health. Our data shows that poverty, access to potable water, education, health care, and gender violence all directly correlate to a woman’s risk-level during pregnancy and as a result of childbirth.

“Beyond the statistical data, it also reflects the vulnerable conditions of women and their children, regarding the social determinants that affect the occurrence of maternal deaths,” says Esther Liliana Cuevas, subdirector of the National Institute of Health of Colombia’s Secure Motherhood Team. “It informs and qualifies better decision making and actions that promote safer motherhood for women and greater welfare for children."

In each country, PADF consulted with local experts on maternal health. In Mexico, PADF collaborated with Observatorio de Mortalidad Materna de México; in Argentina we worked with Instituto de Efectividad Clínica y Sanitaria; and in Colombia, PADF partnered with SINERGIAS.

About PADF

PADF is a nonprofit foundation and part of the Organization of American States that was established in 1962 to put comprehensive socioeconomic development programs into practice for marginalized people, with the goal of strengthening groups of society and the civil community in support of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and to help victims of natural disasters and humanitarian crises. In 2013, PADF helped more than 10.2 million people in 22 countries. Headquartered in Washington D.C., PADF has representation in Haiti, Colombia, Suriname, Honduras and Belize, and has projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

About Merck for Mothers

Merck for Mothers has more than 50 projects in 30 countries around the world. Our major programs are based in five countries: India, Senegal, Uganda, the U.S., and Zambia, where our goal is to test innovative models that expand women's access to affordable, quality care with the potential to be scaled and sustained. Additionally, in 2012 we launched the Global Giving 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 countries across the globe.