For nine short weeks, Manning Selvage and Lee worked with Pharmacia Corporation and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) to release interim results of the FIGO Save the Mothers Fund program and to highlight Pharmacia’s continued involvement in improving women’s health globally.  To meet this objective, Manning was required to coordinate the often conflicting needs of three international, non-profit partners and two corporate partners; overcome language and technology barriers to obtain information from eight developing countries that would capture the media’s attention; and conduct an aggressive, international media outreach effort. The result was widespread media coverage that emphasized Pharmacia’s commitment to women’s health globally and its generous contribution to the Save the Mothers Fund, reaching an international audience of more than 133 million, as well as key Pharmacia constituents in Washington DC. 


The biggest challenge faced by Manning was to creatively balance the needs of our client while bringing to light the severity of safe motherhood around the world.  As the primary donor to the Save the Mothers Fund and with its impressive portfolio of women’s health products, Pharmacia wanted to use this opportunity to showcase its track record as a long-term provider of women’s health care and establish a philanthropic corporate image. 

Around the world, one woman dies each minute from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, the majority of which are preventable.  In response, FIGO established the Save the Mothers Fund, an innovative program dedicated to providing basic training, improving facilities, establishing procedural standards, as well as donating desperately needed basic equipment to provide basic emergency obstetric care to women in target areas of eight developing countries.  This work was conducted through five partnerships between professional obstetrics and gynecological societies in 13 countries: Canada with Uganda, Italy with Mozambique, Sweden with Ethiopia, United Kingdom with Pakistan, and United States with Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua).


Review of background papers for the five partnerships, interviews with the coordinators and extensive intelligence-gathering with FIGO and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) – which required traveling to London and Guatemala – revealed the following “upsetting” facts:

The quality of emergency obstetric care in developing countries is severely inadequate and more often than not, services fall far below the UNICEF/WHO established standards of minimum care.

In 1998, more than 1,000 women died due to complications of childbirth in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

In Ethiopia, nearly 2.7 of the 2.9 million births occurred at home with the assistance of family members or traditional birth attendants, who are not trained in identifying and treating obstetric emergencies, in 1998. 

In Mozambique, only 17 percent of births are delivered in a health center and only two percent are delivered by cesarean section.  While some of the regional hospitals are equipped to provide emergency obstetric care, they are only staffed to provide care for a few hours each morning.

In her lifetime, a Pakistani woman faces a one in 38 chance of dying during childbirth because the health care system cannot provide proper emergency obstetric care.

In Uganda, a woman faces a one in 26 chance of dying from a pregnancy-related cause during her lifetime.


Objective: Showcase Pharmacia’s long-term leadership and commitment to women’s health globally and establish a philanthropic corporate image among key audiences, including international media, health care providers and key third-party organizations.

Strategic Approach: Use the success of the Save the Mothers Fund to showcase Pharmacia’s philanthropy, long-term leadership and commitment to women’s health on a global level.

Target Audiences: National and international health, business, philanthropy and policy media; third-party organizations and policy-makers; health care providers attending FIGO World Congress.

Key Messages: Pharmacia is committed to improving access and health care for women globally.

Somewhere in the world, one woman dies every minute from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

Many women are needlessly dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.  The majority of these deaths are preventable with proper access to quality emergency obstetric care.

Save the Mothers Fund is funded through a generous donation from the Pharmacia Corporation as well as funds from the World Bank and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).


Press Conference: To increase visibility of the Save the Mothers Fund and Pharmacia’s philanthropy and commitment to women’s health, Manning carefully negotiated a partnership with FIGO and ACOG, two organizations that rarely publicly work with corporate partners.  Together, we organized a joint press conference with the UNFPA and World Bank during the FIGO World Congress in Washington, DC, on Sept. 5th.  Speakers included Dr. Mahmoud Fathalla, the founder of the Save the Mothers Fund and past president of FIGO, Dr. Guiseppe Benagiano, chair of the Save the Mothers Fund Steering Committee and director general of the National Institutes of Health of Italy, as well as Chris Bilkey, vice president of Global Women’s Health, Pharmacia.  Coordinators from each country (more than ten) were on-site to answer media questions.  In addition, all media received press kits, which included backgrounders on the five partnerships, biographies for the speakers and coordinators and a global map.  More than 50 national and international reporters from such outlets as CNN, Reuters, Voice of America and Talk America Radio Network attended.

Videoconference: To ensure that Pharmacia’s philanthropy and dedication to women’s health globally was communicated in key markets outside the U.S., Pharmacia invited media in three key Pharmacia market countries – Italy, Singapore and Brazil – to attend the press conference via videoconference.  At each of these locations, a few dozen media viewed the press conference and faxed in questions during the Q&A session. 

B-roll: To showcase women who had benefited from the Save the Mothers Fund, Manning flew to Guatemala to produce b-roll, which included footage of a woman whose life was saved through the program, her physicians and statements from key FIGO and Save the Mothers Fund representatives commending Pharmacia for its generous donation and leadership on this important global women’s health issue. The b-roll, available in both Spanish and English, was distributed to more than 50 media around the world.

Desk-top Calendars: To further put a face on the issue of maternal mortality, Manning worked with coordinators in each of the countries to collect photographs of women who have benefited from the Save the Mothers Fund. With these pictures, Manning created a desk-top calendar which included facts about safe motherhood.  The calendar, which mentioned Pharmacia on each page, was distributed to more than 500 reporters and third parties.

Third-party Dinner: To reinforce Pharmacia’s identity as a philanthropic corporation and global leader in women’s health, Manning helped organize a dinner on Sept. 6th, the day after the press conference, in Washington, DC to increase policymakers’ and key third-party organizations’ awareness of Pharmacia’s involvement in the Save the Mothers Fund.  Held at the Willard Hotel, more than 70 people attended, representing more than 30 key women’s health advocacy groups, including Global Health Council, International Center for Research on Women, American Medical Women’s Association, and American Nurses Association, as well as members of Congress and the administration. Each attendee received a Pharmacia mesh bag filled with information on improving maternal health, including the desk-top calendar, as well as an overview of the Pharmacia women’s health care portfolio.  A slide show of photographs of women around the world emphasized the true meaning behind the night’s event.

Health Care Provider Outreach: Manning integrated information about Pharmacia’s involvement in the Save the Mothers Fund in all the FIGO World Congress delegates’ welcome packets and into the Congress agenda.  During the opening ceremonies, Pharmacia was honored as the first company to provide funding for this international initiative before an audience of 7,000 physicians.  Moreover, Save the Mothers Fund and Pharmacia were mentioned during the FIGO President’s remarks, on display at an exhibit booth and featured in the daily FIGO newsletter each day of the five-day Congress.  

National Press Club Event: Manning successfully secured Dr. Jean Chamberlain, the Save the Mothers Fund coordinator from Canada, as a Morning Newsmaker at the National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, DC.  A month after the press conference, Dr. Chamberlain spoke about her experience of working with the Ugandan women and physicians and shared her insights about how we can work together to improve mothers’ lives around the world.  The event, which was publicized to all members of NPC through their newsletter, blast fax and advisory board, highlighted Pharmacia’s global commitment to women’s health at the national level. 


Objective: Showcase Pharmacia’s long-term leadership and commitment to women’s health globally and establish a philanthropic corporate image among key audiences, including international media, health care providers and key third-party organizations.

Manning secured widespread media coverage in the United States, Canada, Italy, Mexico and Latin America, reaching an audience of more than 133 million internationally to date.  Media interest in this story continues: in late October, Oxygen media, a U.S.-based cable television station, traveled to Nicaragua to interview the women and physicians who were involved in the program.

Sixty-three percent of the media coverage we secured highlighted the fact that Pharmacia provided the seed funding to initiate the program.  

Pharmacia was recognized during the opening ceremonies of the FIGO World Congress for being the first company to provide funding for the Save the Mothers Fund.  Dr. Henk de Koning Gans, vice president, Urology, Women’s Health Care, Clinical Development, accepted the award on behalf of Pharmacia before an audience of more than 7,000 international delegates.  

More than 70 key constituents attended the third-party dinner in Washington.

We educated more than 7,000 attendees of the FIGO World Congress and raised awareness among health care providers.

The NPC event brought to light Pharmacia’s involvement in this important international public health issue among American media. 
Other organizations are now looking to Pharmacia for leadership in raising awareness about safe motherhood.  Recently, the Global Health Council (GHC), a leading international health organization, approached Pharmacia as a potential partner for the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.