In the developing regions of the world, only half of women receive adequate health care. Globally, women of all ages face gender-based inequalities, exclusions, discrimination and violence when it comes to accessing health care. Every two minutes a woman dies during pregnancy and childbirth — or more than 800 women a day. Most of these deaths would be preventable if the women had access to quality maternal health care before, during and after childbirth.

Merck for Mothers, a $500-million, 10-year initiative that Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier launched in 2011, is working to reduce mortality rates among women, especially maternal mortality. It is also leveraging public and private partnerships to streamline supply chains for life-saving medicines and health commodities. Thus far, more than 7.3 million women in more than 30 countries have benefited from the Merck program.

In India, four-year-old Karma Healthcare, based in Udaipur in Rajasthan state, has found ways to harness digital connectivity to provide affordable, quality health care to rural and semi-urban areas. Using a hub-and-spoke model, Karma Healthcare runs 17 so-called e-Doctor clinics connected to large urban hospitals in Rajasthan and three other neighboring states. Each clinic serves a population of 20,000 to 25,000 people. Nurses run the clinics, and they act as conduits between patients and doctors.