DARMSTADT, Germany, February 23, 2016 (Antara/PRNewswire) --

  • Merck's Consumer Health business takes the lead in addressing health and well-being challenges of women around the world
  • Experts worldwide join a debate on how best to close the gap between the future vision and current reality
  • Global study of the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Consumer Health, shows stakeholders struggle to manage well-being expansion beyond health

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today took the lead in addressing health and well-being challenges of women in different cultures and at different life stages. At the "Global Consumer Health Debate 2016", which took place today at the company's global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, an international panel of academics, public health specialists, NGO leaders and business experts discussed with Merck senior executives how best to close the gap between the future vision of women's health and well-being and the current reality in countries across the globe.

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Belén Garijo, member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO Healthcare pointed out, "Women's health and well-being is at the center of our healthcare strategic priorities at Merck. As a leading provider of healthcare products and services, we sponsor several corporate responsibility initiatives aimed to help protect and improve the health status of our female employees as well as actively participate in worldwide private-public partnerships to address women's healthcare needs in developed and developing countries."

The basis for today's debate was the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) white paper, sponsored by Merck Consumer Health, on "Women's Health and Well-Being: Evolving Definitions and Practices." The findings of the research, which focused on women, subject-matter experts and public health officials in India, Mexico, Brazil, France and Germany, were presented for the first time today.

Uta Kemmerich-Keil, CEO and President of Merck's Consumer Health business, said, "Women everywhere are taking significant steps to advance their lives; securing health and well-being is at the heart of this. They have a high chance of living up to 100 years, and they aim to live every year to the fullest in good health and well-being. Interestingly, women across the world are often the caretakers of the health and well-being of their own families; and they educate their family members on this topic. Women also represent the majority of professionals in health care occupations, so they have broadest impact on improving health and well-being in our societies. However, there are significant barriers to accessing health and well-being services, which can have far-reaching consequences for women, for example on their productivity and quality of life. This is what our debate is aiming to address, hoping that stakeholders across the globe start looking for better integrated approaches and sustainable solutions."

Attending the event and also commenting on this gap, Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver, a globally acting non-governmental organization based in the USA, said, "The past two decades have shown that it pays to invest in women's health and well-being. We have seen tremendous improvements in some areas primarily in terms of being free from disease but also in optimizing women's opportunities and ensuring a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with one's life. However, challenges remain, and progress has been uneven across regions and within countries, as shown by the data released today."

Angela Spatharou, Partner and Healthcare expertise leader for Latin America at McKinsey & Company in Mexico, acknowledged that industry has a critical role to play in closing the gap between women's wishes to improve their well-being, and their real life experiences highlighted in the EIU report by providing access to the best services, products and information. Alexandra Wyke, CEO of PatientView, added that it is also critical that both the public health and the private sector focus more on what women really desire regarding their health and well-being.

Sanghita Bhattacharyya, Senior Public Health Specialist at the Public Health Foundation of India, explained during today's event, "Beyond a narrow elite, there is little sign in India that women themselves are becoming more active in managing their health and well-being. Public health policy has paid limited attention to the well-being of women beyond their reproductive years. This in itself is a manifestation of gendered expectations, where even decision makers have not looked at women beyond their roles as mothers and care givers."

Adding to the debate through the European lens, Prof. Dr. Hilke Brockmann from Jacobs University Bremen, Germany, explained, "The key question addressed by the EIU report is how to approach the subjective and objective nature of well-being. The solution lies in a new way of comparing well-being between life stages and cultures, taking into account that the concept of well-being sometimes - as shown by the EIU report - relies more on perception than precise factors."

Concluding the debate, Uta Kemmerich-Keil declared, "The EIU study provides an extremely significant validation and evidence base for the need to do more in bridging the gap that exists between where women's health and well-being should be and where it is today. However, for many of us, the debate and publication of the report are not enough. Crucially, we now want the conversation to continue. I hope that sparking debate will raise awareness of the topic, and that together we can ensure that women's health and well-being remains at the top of the agenda."

Following today's debate the Consumer Health business of Merck committed to continue sparking the discussion throughout 2016 on the themes of women's well-being in emerging and developed countries; the funding of women's health and well-being; access-to-health and well-being information; and policy programmes on women's health and well-being.

Note for editors:

- The Global Consumer Health Debate entitled "Addressing the Diverse Health and Well-Being Challenges of Women around the World" took place in Darmstadt, Germany, on 22 February 2016.

- Further information, including the EIU study, is available at http://www.merck-consumer-health.com/en/industry/industry.html

- Merck Consumer Health on Twitter: https://twitter.com/merck_ch

All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Website. Please go to http://www.merckgroup.com/subscribe to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

About Merck's Consumer Health Business

Brands of the Consumer Health business, such as Dolo-Neurobion®, Neurobion®, Bion®, Seven Seas®, Nasivin®, and Femibion® are innovative leaders in key markets, backed by science and trusted by consumers worldwide. The Consumer Health business is with over 2,700 employees globally active in over 40 markets. Since 2014, the portfolio comprises of brands with annual total sales of about $ 1 billion. Consumer Health is a business of the Healthcare business sector within the Merck Group with global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. For more information please go to http://www.merck-consumer-health.com as well as to https://twitter.com/merck_ch.

About Merck

Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life - from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2014, Merck generated sales of € 11.3 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

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Source: Merck KGaA

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