The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to provide USD1.5 billion to support innovative maternal health, child health, nutrition and family planning programs in developing countries over the next five years.
A significant portion of the funds will be allocated to programs in Ethiopia, India and other countries with relatively high maternal and child mortality rates. A total of USD60 million worth of initial grants will be provided to Ethiopian programs, while some USD94 million will be provided to India. The money will be primarily coursed through non-governmental organizations and research organizations in recipient countries, according to a news release from the Gates Foundation.
The grants will be spent for a variety of programs, including the training of front-line health workers, development and introduction of interventions for newborn infections, behavioral and social research on lifesaving practices such as breastfeeding, and development of strategies to explain access to voluntary family planning programs.
“The world must come together to save women’s and children’s lives. 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,” Melinda Gates said June 7 during the Women Deliver 2010 conference in Washington, where she announced the foundation’s commitment.
Meanwhile, Bill Gates was in Nigeria on June 7 for consultations with local health officials and other stakeholders on what measures are needed to make sure polio does not recur on a large scale in the country.
The Gates Foundation co-founder was welcomed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who lauded Gates’ support for Nigeria’s health sector.
“I thank you for what you are doing for the world. Thank you for all the time and money you have been investing to make the world safer and healthier,” Jonathan said, according to Agence France-Presse.