Mothers for life. Life for Mothers - An integrated model to improve reproductive and maternal healthcare services in rural Romania


Irina, 26, is a mother of five and she is in her 4th month of pregnancy. She had her first child at the age of 15. She has never had an ultrasound and does not even know what that is. She lives in very poor conditions, on pure soil. The day we saw them the children only ate some nuts, the second day some bread. She is part of the Roma community.


Maria had her first child at the age of 13 and she is pregnant again. She hasn't seen a doctor during her second pregnancy.

Anişoara is 20 years old, mother of three children, first pregnancy at 15 years. She is also living in very poor conditions. She is not part of the Roma community.

Teenage mothers and high mortality rates are still very much an issue in rural Romania. Romania faces the highest maternal mortality rate in the EU. 


 “Mothers for life. Life for mothers” is a project won by World Vision Romania in 2015 as part of Merck for mothers” global programme for reducing maternal mortality worldwide. It's aim is to sustain and integrate maternal medical services and family planning and to reduce the very high rates of maternal mortality, unwanted pregnancieis and abortion, especially among teenagers. The project has a duration of 30 months and it is implemented in three counties, in 30 rural communities that are the most exposed to poverty. We plan to educate, support and inform 15,000 women and 230 medical care providers. Local and central authorities involved in women health are also targeted by the project in order to improve access of most vulnerable women to medical care during pregnancy and to support the optimal space of birth.


After only a few months of activities the project “Mothers for life. Life for mothers” was awarded at the Gala "Romanian Corporate Social Responsibility Awards 2016“.

During the first semester several national and local debates have been organised with central and local authorities, Government, Parliament, several ministries (health, education, labour), representatives of medical institutions and community participation.  



Also, during this period a community qualitative study was carried out: “Barriers met by the vulnerable women from the rural areas in accessing prenatal and reproductive health medical services in Romania”. The research was conducted in Dolj, Valcea and Vaslui counties as part of the project.  

The results of the study were launched as a public national debate at the National Institute of Public Health, bringing together representatives of the Presidency, Government, Parliament - Deputy Chamber and Senate, Ministry of Health, National House of Health Insurance and the most important medical public institutions and professional societies, specialists and mass media.

The study contains a package of recommendations for different stakeholders: for more details see link

Main TV stations, press agencies and radio channels broadcasted the debate in prime time.


World Vision Romania Foundation, along with pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme Romania launched "Mothers for life. Life for Mothers” programme in March 2016.


The programme is financed by the global grant Merck Sharp and Dohme for Mothers, which rises to EUR 500,000 in the next three years. MSD for Mothers is an initiative that lasts 10 years and applies MSD’s expertise in approaching the medical challenges at global level, in order to reduce the maternal mortality worldwide. The project launched in Romania represents one of the biggest Corporate Social Responsibility investments of a pharmaceutical company in Romania and it is among the biggest social private investments in healthcare.


“The project Mothers for Life. Life for Mothers, part of the global program Merck Sharpe and Dohme for Mothers, will make a real difference for the Romanian women within economically vulnerable areas and will contribute, on long term, to achieving the project’s ambitious goal: no mother to die while giving birth. Moreover, the project will be integrated within our local platform of responsibility, which operates through four pillars, with focus on sustaining the communities and healthcare. Our efforts are targeting the leading positions that Romania holds in the European Union in a series of diseases such as the cervical cancer and maternal mortality”, said the general manager of MSD Romania, Fabrizio Giombini.