Melinda Gates Calls For Global Action To Save Women's And Children's Lives

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8th June 2010, 04:25am - Views: 1146

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

WASHINGTON, June 8 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

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

                         Children's Health Programs

    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


    "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

million 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."

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    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

    NOTE TO EDITORS: Live webcast and replay will be available at:

    Multimedia resources such as video clips, B-roll, and photos are

available at:

     SOURCE: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    CONTACT: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,  

             +1-206 709 3400,



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