Access to Specialty Care

Partnering to Increase Access to Specialty Care for Complex, Chronic Conditions in India and Vietnam

On January 18, 2017, Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA announced that the company’s Foundation, the Merck Foundation, will provide Project ECHO® at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC) a grant of $7 million over five years.

The grant enables Project ECHO to improve access to specialty care for complex, chronic conditions, such as hepatitis C, HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes and mental health conditions in underserved communities in India and Vietnam.

The Problem

In areas throughout Asia, patients face significant barriers to access crucial healthcare services. Specialty care for complex chronic conditions, in particular, is often unavailable or unattainable in local communities. Screening, testing, care and other services are unaffordable to many families, in addition to being geographically unattainable (e.g., inability to travel long distances, limited access to specialists).

A key challenge is the consistent growth of medical knowledge and the barriers to dissemination from academic centers to rural providers, which prevents their patients from getting the right care in the right place at the right time.

The Solution

The Project ECHO-Merck Foundation partnership aims to improve the ways in which medical education is delivered to people in the rural and underserved communities of India and Vietnam. Using the ECHO model™ to establish mentorship and training networks that connect rural providers with specialty care teams, and to develop a robust method of community health worker training and support, this initiative aspires to effectively expand access to care for the populations who need it the most.

With the support of the Merck Foundation, Project ECHO aims to expand the capacity of health systems across the region, and demonstrate to the governments of India and Vietnam the utility of the ECHO model as a means of expanding access to quality healthcare for their populations. We will work to establish partnerships with the Ministries of Health in India and Vietnam, with the ultimate goal of enabling their regional and national governments to sustain these networks as part of their healthcare systems. Learn more about this program and, if you choose, download a helpful Fact Sheet.

About The Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck’s chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit charitable organizations.

Since its inception, the Merck Foundation has contributed more than $870 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with Merck’s overall mission of inventing for life by bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases.

For more information, visit If you are interested in launching an ECHO in India or Vietnam, please contact the Replication Team.