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Gates Foundation Pledges $1.5 Billion to Maternal Health

Today marks the end of a three-day conference entitled Women Deliver, aiming to put maternal health and child welfare at the forefront of the world stage.  (Full coverage of all three days via Ms. Magazine.)

According to The New York Times, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it would spend “$1.5 billion over the next five years on maternal and child health, family planning and nutrition programs in developing countries, representing a new emphasis for the foundation, whose health efforts so far have focused on infectious diseases, vaccines and H.I.V. and AIDS.”

Addressing the crowd Monday, Melinda Gates said that “pregnancy and childbirth often end in tragedy in poor countries, but that could be prevented at a stunningly low cost.”

In a telephone interview with the Times, Ms. Gates “cited Malawi as an example, noting that though it is one of the poorest countries in Africa, it has begun to lower childhood death rates and to take on maternal mortality as well.”

Though the Gates Foundation “has already spent about $1.8 billion on maternal, newborn and child health,” Ms. Gates said “much of the next $1.5 billion would go to programs in India, Ethiopia and other countries where mothers and children have relatively high death rates… to pay for projects like training health workers, developing improved antibiotics for infections in newborns and finding better ways to treat hemorrhage in mothers.”  She hopes to inspire wealthy nations to provide more International aid.

Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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