Dec. 2, 2016

Merck for mothers(Edmonton, Alberta)… Alberta Innovates, Merck Canada Inc., and Alberta Health Services today announced the launch of a new program “Innovation to Improve Access and Care Quality for Aboriginal Women in Alberta” to address maternal health needs in the indigenous communities of Alberta. With the help of a $1 million grant from Merck Canada Inc., through the Merck for Mothers program, and a $300,000 grant from Alberta Innovates, Alberta Health Services (AHS) will partner with Merck to develop the collaborative initiative to improve access to high quality care for aboriginal mothers in Maskwacis, Little Red River Cree Nation and inner-city Edmonton.

The communities will benefit from the new funding through enhanced quality of prenatal care closer to home, culturally grounded education and peer support in the weeks before and after birth, as well as improved care coordination and evaluation. Pride in Aboriginal culture, sharing of traditions and cultural wisdom will also be promoted to strengthen the overall care and support of Aboriginal mothers.

“Merck is dedicated to investing in projects that it believes will have a significant impact on ending preventable maternal deaths on a global scale,” said Mr. Chirfi Guindo, President and Managing Director, Merck Canada Inc. “This local investment and partnership with Alberta Innovates and Alberta Health Services is a testament to this company’s commitment to applying valuable resources and expertise as a means of improving the health and well-being of mothers worldwide.”

“There is power in partnership and Alberta Innovates is pleased to play a role, alongside Merck and Alberta Health Services,” said Dr. Pamela Valentine, Alberta Innovates Transition CEO.  “Healthy mothers and healthy babies are the foundation of strong communities. By working alongside our partners, we hope to improve maternal and child health, which ultimately will lead to healthy communities.”

“As a city with one of the largest urban aboriginal populations in Canada, we are pleased that the Merck for Mothers program has selected Edmonton as one of its program sites. This announcement will improve health and well-being outcomes for Edmontonians and reinforces our place as Canada’s Health City, where innovative approaches to care are welcomed and encouraged,” said City of Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson.

“Alberta Health Services is very proud to partner with three unique communities, Merck, and Alberta Innovates, to help improve outcomes for Indigenous women and their newborn children,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, President and CEO, Alberta Health Services. “We want all mothers to have access to the best care and support when they are bringing their babies into this world. We want healthy babies, and healthy families.”

Alberta is home to more than 220,000 people descended from First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, the third largest Aboriginal population in Canada. They live on one of 140 designated reserves, in urban centres or in rural and remote communities. Regardless of place of residence, in Alberta the perinatal mortality rate in Aboriginal women is 7.1/1000 births, compared to 4.1/1000 in the non-aboriginal population.

Globally, nearly 800 women die every day during pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these tragic deaths are preventable when women have access to quality maternal healthcare before, during and after childbirth. When a woman survives pregnancy and childbirth, her family, community and nation thrive. When a woman dies, the ripple effect on families and communities is enormous. Her baby is 10 times more likely to die before the age of two and her other children are up to 10 times more likely to leave school, suffer from poor health, or die prematurely.


About Merck for Mothers

Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, 500 million dollar initiative that applies Merck scientific and business expertise – as well as its financial resources and experience in taking on tough global healthcare challenges – to end preventable maternal mortality worldwide. To achieve this, Merck for Mothers is providing transformational and sustainable solutions focused on improving the quality of maternal health care women receive at health facilities and increasing women’s access to family planning.

Merck for Mothers focuses on helping countries reduce maternal mortality and improve maternal health with the overall aim of supporting United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.1, which calls for a global reduction in the maternal mortality ratio to fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030. For more information, visit


About Merck Canada Inc.

For 125 years, Merck has been a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well.  Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information about our operations in Canada, visit and connect with us on YouTube.


Alberta Innovates

Alberta Innovates is the province’s leading organization tasked with delivering on the research and innovation priorities of the Government of Alberta. Alberta Innovates’ role is to accelerate innovation in the province’s agriculture, energy, environment, forest and health sectors. In the health sector, Alberta Innovates (formerly known as Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions) provides leadership for Alberta’s health research and innovation enterprise by directing, coordinating, reviewing, funding and supporting health research and innovation. Working with its many partners in the health system, Alberta Innovates ensures that health research achieves innovation in care, policy and practice, and that the needs of patients and clinicians influence research.  Visit


Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

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