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Gates Foundation Announces 5-Year, $1.5 Billion Commitment For Maternal, Child Health

During the Women Deliver conference on Monday Melinda Gates announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “will spend $1.5 billion over the next five years on maternal and child health, family planning and nutrition in developing countries, a pledge that signals a new focus for the foundation known for concentrating on vaccines and AIDS,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Jordan, 6/7).

“The program aims to cut across the ‘silos’ of health initiatives focused on one thing – AIDS, for example, or nutrition – and get broader initiatives into place,” Reuters writes (Fox, 6/7).

During a speech at the conference, Gates “challenged the idea that ‘large numbers of maternal and child deaths are inevitable, or even acceptable, in poor countries,'” the Seattle Times’ “Business of Giving” blog writes. “It is not that the world doesn’t know how to save the 350,000 mothers and 3 million newborns who die every year,” Gates said. “It is that we haven’t tried hard enough” (Heim, 6/7).

According to the New York Times, “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.” The newspaper also notes the foundation’s January announcement to spend $10 billion on vaccines over the next decade (Grady, 6/7).

During her speech, “Gates noted that the next several months are a critical window of opportunity to secure new global action,” according to a Gates’ Foundation press release. “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” (6/7).

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton applauded the Gates Foundation’s announcement in a statement (6/7).

Also at the conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “said he would try to focus the Group of 20 meeting in Toronto later this month on [maternal health], adding the goal is to raise $15 billion,” Reuters adds. “We may need an additional $45 billion by 2015,” Ban said (6/7).

Other coverage of the announcement includes:

“Gates Foundation Pledges Additional $1.5 Billion More For Women And Children,” Forbes (Weissman, 6/8).

“Melinda Gates, U.N. to target health,” Politico (Cogan, 6/7)

“Melinda Gates Announces $1.5-Billion Foundation Pledge for Women and Children,” Chronicle of Philanthropy (Peterson, 6/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.