The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a commitment of more than $44 million to support family health initiatives that reduce preventable maternal and infant deaths worldwide.
Through its Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, the foundation pledged $35 million to help expand the pipeline of groundbreaking ideas that can help women and children live more prosperous and healthy lives. To that end, the foundation announced two new family health initiatives: Preventing Preterm Birth, an initiative of Seattle Children's Hospital and the Global Alliance for the Prevention of Prematurity and Stillbirth that will distribute $20 million for the discovery and development of interventions to prevent preterm birth and stillbirth by limiting infection and improving nutrition; and Discover New Ways to Achieve Healthy Growth, which will distribute $15 million to determine the causes of "growth faltering" during the first thousand days of life and identify effective and affordable interventions to promote healthy growth in young children. In addition, the foundation announced the creation of a $9 million initiative, Biomarkers of Gut Function and Health, which will work to identify and develop non-invasive measures of intestinal functioning as a way to assess infant health and development.
The foundation also announced more than one hundred grants of $100,000 each through its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative for innovative projects that seek to improve nutrition and development in young children as well as address infectious diseases such as polio and HIV. Nine projects that show promise will be eligible to receive up to $1 million more in funding from the foundation.
"There is a vital need for new and creative ideas to help mothers and children in the world's poorest countries," said Chris Wilson, director of global health discovery at the Gates Foundation. "We urge scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs to seize the opportunity to contribute to the field of family health through the discovery and development of medicines, medical devices, diagnostics, and other lifesaving tools."