Melinda Gates Calls for Global Action to Save Women's and Children's Lives

By Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, PRNE
Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gates Foundation Commits US$1.5 Billion for Integrated Women's and Children's Health Programs

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2010 - Melinda Gates today urged global leaders to make women's and children's
health a top priority, and announced that the Gates Foundation will invest
US$1.5 billion over the next five years to support maternal and child health,
family planning, and nutrition programs in developing countries.

"The world must come together to save women's and children's lives," said
Gates. "In poor countries, pregnancy and childbirth often end in tragedy. Our
goal must be to build a world where every birth brings joy and hope for the

Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discussed her
vision for maternal and child health in a speech at the Women Deliver 2010
conference, an international meeting of policymakers, health experts, and

Gates said it is critical to challenge the notion that large numbers of
maternal and child deaths are inevitable, or even acceptable, in poor

"Every year, millions of newborns die within a matter of days or weeks,
and hundreds of thousands of women die in childbirth," said Gates. "The death
toll is so huge, and has persisted for so long, it's easy to think we're
powerless to do much about it. The truth is, we can prevent most of these
deaths - and at a stunningly low cost - if we take action now."

Gates highlighted the importance of designing integrated health programs
for women and children that address multiple needs - such as family planning,
prenatal care, safe childbirth, and nutrition.

"The Gates Foundation is joining many others in the global health
community in working toward a more integrated approach to women's and
children's health," said Gates. "Women and children have a continuum of
needs, and we must design health programs accordingly."

New Progress and Momentum on Maternal and Child Health

In her remarks today, Gates said that investments in maternal and child
health programs have brought new hope and opportunity to developing

"Most maternal and newborn deaths can be prevented with existing,
low-cost solutions - such as basic prenatal care, or educating mothers about
the importance of keeping babies warm," said Gates. "Countries that have made
women's and children's health a priority - and have invested in proven
solutions - are achieving amazing results."

Recent studies from researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and
Evaluation provide compelling new evidence of global progress. Researchers
found that the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes has
dropped by more than 35% in the past 30 years - from more than 500,000
annually in 1980 to about 343,000 in 2008. Deaths among children under five
are declining at a surprisingly rapid rate, globally and in many developing
countries. An estimated 7.7 million young children will die this year,
compared to 11.9 million in 1990, and 16 million in 1970.

Gates noted that the next several months are a critical window of
opportunity to secure new global action. Canada is urging donor countries to
endorse a major maternal and child health initiative at the G8 summit in
Muskoka, Ontario, later this month.

"This is a pivotal moment for women's and children's health," said Gates.
"Canada is proposing a bold but achievable plan that can save countless lives
- and I hope all G8 members will lend their strong support. The need is
urgent and clear."

Gates commended the United States, Norway, and other donor countries for
making women's and children's health a foreign aid priority, and UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for crafting a global action plan for maternal
and child health. The plan will help accelerate progress toward Millennium
Development Goals 4 and 5, the global targets for reducing maternal and child
mortality by 2015.

New Gates Funding for Maternal and Child Health, Family Planning,

To help advance a comprehensive approach to women's and children's
health, Gates announced that the Gates Foundation will invest US$1.5 billion
from 2010 through 2014 to support innovative projects addressing family
planning; health care for pregnant women, newborns, and children; and

This new pledge will add to the foundation's spending in other areas that
affect women's and children's health - such as developing and delivering
children's vaccines, and preventing pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and

A significant portion of the new funding will support programs in India,
Ethiopia, and other countries that have relatively high rates of maternal and
child mortality. The foundation is providing initial grants totaling US$94
in India and US$60 million in Ethiopia, with additional grants to be
announced over the coming year. The grants will primarily fund
non-governmental organizations and research institutions, and will be closely
coordinated with government programs.

The new grants will support a variety of projects, including efforts to:

    - Support the development of comprehensive, integrated programs, for
      example, by training front-line health workers to provide multiple
    - Develop and introduce interventions that could have a major health
      impact, such as simplified antibiotics for newborn infections and more
      cost-effective treatment for post-partum hemorrhage
    - Conduct social and behavioral research on promoting lifesaving
      practices such as immediate, exclusive breastfeeding and skin-to-skin
      contact to keep newborns warm
    - Develop effective strategies to expand the availability and use of
      voluntary family planning services in poor urban areas
    - Rigorously evaluate innovative programs, and share effective strategies
      with other countries

"Ethiopians know that safeguarding the health of women and children is
critical for future generations to prosper," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Ethiopia's minister of health. "This funding and support will help us pursue
innovative strategies to save lives more quickly and effectively."

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In
developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them
the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the
United States
, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the
fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in
school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO,
Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill
and Melinda Gates
and Warren Buffett. Learn more at or join the conversation at Facebook
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