Foundation Donates $200M for Reproductive Health Care

Melinda Gates announces pledge on UN sidelines, honoring the Carters and Bono
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 21, 2023 5:25 PM CDT
Foundation Donates $200M for Reproductive Health Care
A person walks by the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle in 2018.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $200 million to help save the lives of mothers and children during childbirth, as the largest American philanthropic donor throws its weight behind the issue during the nonprofit's annual Goalkeepers conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Melinda French Gates, who says the issue is personal to her, smiled broadly as she introduced herself not just as the co-founder and co-chair of the foundation but as "Nona," or "grandmother," gesturing to her eldest daughter, Jennifer, who was seated in the audience in New York on Wednesday, the AP reports.

The foundation pledged $100 million each to health products manufacturer Unitaid and UNFPA, the UN agency for reproductive health, to fund access to health care and contraceptive supplies and information in low- and middle-income countries. The Gates Foundation has been a major supporter of Unitaid, donating $50 million in each 2012 and 2017, according to the foundation's grant database. Founded in 2017, the Goalkeepers initiative is how the foundation tracks progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, which UN member countries agreed in 2015 to meet by 2030. The goals set targets to reduce poverty, improve health and education, and protect the environment, per the AP, though progress has fallen significantly off track, especially following the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

French Gates recognized former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter with a lifetime achievement award at a ceremony on Tuesday evening, pointing in part to Carter's long commitment to the elimination of guinea worm disease. Singer Bono also received an award for his work advocating for access to health care in developing countries and for the role he played in launching the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The program to combat HIV/AIDS was created by President George W. Bush and Congress two decades ago and is credited with saving 25 million lives. The fate of the program, set to expire at the end of September, is uncertain because of a demand from Republican lawmakers to bar nongovernmental organizations that used any funding from providing or promoting abortion services.

(More maternal health stories.)

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