The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a five-year, $1.5 billion commitment to support maternal and child health, family planning, and nutrition programs in developing countries.
A significant portion of the funding will support programs in India, Ethiopia, and other countries that have relatively high rates of maternal and child mortality. "The world must come together to save women's and children's lives," said Melinda 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 future."
Initial grants totaling $94 million in India and $60 million in Ethiopia will be directed largely to nongovernmental organizations and research institutions working to develop interventions and comprehensive programs that could have a major health impact, social and behavioral research on life-saving practices, effective strategies that expand the availability and use of voluntary family planning services, and rigorous evaluation of innovative programs.
"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."