The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $1.5 billion over 5 years to improve systems that will reduce maternal and newborn deaths and illness in the developing world. The announcement came yesterday during the Women Deliver conference.
I heard the story first on NPR - you can access their brief interview with Melinda Gates here. But this story peppers papers from the Wall Street Journal to USA Today and has now made headlines on Politico and the Kaiser Family Foundation websites. Melinda Gates wrote her own article, 'A New Vision for the Health of Women & Children' in the Huffington Post.
The Gates Foundation sees this clearly as an area that requires public-private partnerships. In other words, they recognize that in the case of maternal & child health private organizations and nonprofits cannot have meaningful, sustainable change without the support of local and national governments.
Improving consistent access to contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancy clearly appears to be a major focus of the Foundation's efforts.
This investment is great news for the field of maternal and child health -- and will hopefully raise these issues to greater prominence both here in the US and abroad. In addition to raising awareness, effective use of $1.5 billion ought to have considerable impact on the health of women and children - and I hope to see and read about these improvements.