Gates Foundation Commits $1.5 Billion for Maternal Health

Originally posted on Seattle Times

Calling on world health leaders to do more to prevent deaths of mothers and their newborn babies, Melinda Gates said today the Gates Foundation is pledging $1.5 billion over the next five years for family planning, maternal and child health and nutrition in developing countries.
It's the second largest donation in the foundation's history, after a $10 billion pledge over 10 years for vaccine development and delivery made in January.

Women Deliver Conference Opens with Promises of Action

By Joanne Omang

WASHINGTON, June 7—It was the personal stories that resonated most.

The Women Deliver 2010 conference opened today with certified heavy hitters sending the right messages out to the world about women’s health needs: “If we act now, and act together, we can deliver for women,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about his global agencies. “You can count on us.”

Good to hear, yes. But the 3,000 attendees really caught their collective breath when Ban recalled his own birth in a home in rural Korea, and about wondering as a child why pregnant women would gaze at their shoes before going into the delivery room. It’s because they are wondering if they will ever step into those shoes again, his mother told him.

Motherhood then was a life-threatening experience, and it still is in too much of the world today, Ban said. So began his life’s work, “a journey to help every woman step back into her shoes again after giving birth."  more...

Women Deliver Promises Hope Around the World

By: Tamar Abrams, originally posted on The Huffington Post

In a cavernous convention center in the heart of the Nation's Capitol, thousands of people have gathered to celebrate the role of women in the well-being of families, communities and nations. They are also gathered to push for improvements in maternal and newborn health. Women in native dress from all over the world stride purposefully through the spacious hallways -- midwives, doctors, advocates, lawyers, mothers and grandmothers, Parliamentarians, elected officials, Hollywood stars, and wide-eyed young people. It is a colorful tapestry of ethnic, age, and geographic diversity. more...

The Lancet Devotes Entire Themed Issue to Women Deliver

Large numbers of the public remain unaware of the health issues facing women and children. Women and girls make up 60% of the world’s poorest and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate. Yet with education and empowerment, they can lead healthy lives and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. To devise a plan to make women and children’s health more visible, we must listen harder to voices from those countries where most maternal and child death take place. Too often we ignore these voices. A themed issue of The Lancet covers a range of global issues on maternal, child, and newborn health.

Click here to read the entire issue and articles

Crown Princess of Denmark Becomes Patron of UNFPA to Support Women’s Health

H.R.H. Crown Princess Mary of Denmark has become Patron of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, to support the agency's work to promote maternal health and safer motherhood in more than 150 developing nations. This work is a UNFPA key priority because women have about 1 in 7 lifetime risk of maternal death in a few developing countries; compared to 1 in 17,800 in Denmark, according to the latest published United Nations estimates. more...

Maternal Health Conference Examines Progress, Challenges; Pushes Donors Toward US$12 Billion

Women Deliver features global leaders from nearly 140 countries, including advocates, UN agencies, researchers, government officials, ministers of health and finance, and first ladies.

The world’s largest conference on women’s health and empowerment in more than a decade opens on Monday, June 7, with a call to increase funding commitments for maternal, reproductive, and newborn health by US$12 billion each year. At Women Deliver 2010, more than 3,000 representatives from nearly 140 countries will highlight the urgent need to save the lives of the 350,000-500,000 women who die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes each year, citing new economic rationale for investing in women.

Special Edition of The Lancet for Women Deliver

Large numbers of the public remain unaware of the health issues facing women and children. Women and girls make up 60% of the world’s poorest and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate. Yet with education and empowerment, they can lead healthy lives and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. This week a themed issue of The Lancet covers a range of global issues on maternal, child, and newborn health.

A New Role for Africans in Global Maternal Health

By Dr. Fred Sai, co-host of Women Deliver 2010 and former advisor to the Ghanaian government on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. You can follow the live stream of the Women Deliver 2010 conference from June 7th to 9th at

Originally posted at ONE blog.

This March, the Lancet released new statistics that revealed an unprecedented drop in the number of women who die every year during pregnancy and childbirth. The study found that from 1980 to 2008, maternal deaths globally have fallen from 500,000 each year to 340,000. Having spent some 40 years working on women and children’s health in Ghana and across Africa, I welcomed this progress. But as the world celebrated, I also couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is Africa?”

A Message from Sarah Brown, Global Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance

By: Sarah Brown, Global Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance

As you meet in Washington DC this week, there are some very encouraging signs of progress on maternal health which we all want to improve further. The issue is on the international political agenda as never before; new global figures suggest maternal mortality rates are coming down in some places, and we have seen in recent years how the movement for change is rapidly growing around the world. There are today many thousands of White Ribbon Alliance members now in 150 countries around the world uniting to press for change and holding leaders to account for their promises.

Collecting Stories of Mothers and Babies Saved

At the Women Deliver 2010 conference, White Ribbon Alliance along with UNFPA will be debuting a multimedia exhibition called, "Stories of Mothers Saved." To celebrate the exhibit, they are hosting a countdown to Women Deliver with blog posts from people all over the world who have contributed to their multimedia exhibition. These blog posts include, Francois Zoungrana from Burkina Faso, Jameel Aldrbashi from Palestine, Smita Maniar from India, and Ahsan Mehboob from Pakistan.

Dying for Life-Pulitzer Center’s New Maternal Mortality Resources

Today the Pulitzer Center, a nonprofit that sponsors and produces award-winning international journalism, launched a new interactive site focused on maternal mortality issues, "Dying for Life".

Deliver for Women: Not a Request, But an Imperative

By: Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver (originally posted on The Huffington Post)

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak before the Canadian Parliament, at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, about the importance of investing in women as a global development strategy. Canada is gearing up to host the G8/G20 Summits in just a few weeks, where leaders will unveil a maternal health initiative.

I thought about the immense opportunity -- no, critical responsibility -- Canada has this year to show the world true leadership on maternal health. The world's women and the world entirely, need courageous leadership and vast funding commitments. I don't think anyone needs reminding of just how much we all have at stake.

Delivering A Better Future For Women And Girls

By Dr. Fred Sai
(Dr. Fred Sai, was a former adviser to the Ghanaian Government on Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS and is currently the honarary co-chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference)

This article was published in Ghanaian Times, Modern Ghana, and The Nigerian Voice

Theresa wakes up at the first glimmer of sun in the morning. It is Monday, the beginning of the week, and the first day of class at the school where she is a teacher. She baths and feeds her two children, Kofi and Naana. Together, they walk the short distance to the school, stopping to visit an elderly woman who Theresa and her women’s group at church support. When she arrives at school, Theresa gathers her forty-five class 5 pupils into the small classroom and begins a new year of lessons.

When I met Theresa in her small town just weeks ago, she struck me as one of the millions of women who deliver enormous benefits to our country, families and children every single day. Women like Theresa teach our children in school; they sell goods in the market; and they work in our banks, hospitals, and health centers. These women, increasingly left alone to their fate by absentee spouses or boyfriends, also carry and deliver our children—the future of our country.

Sandra E. Roelofs, the First Lady of Georgia, on Women Deliver

Sandra E. Roelofs, the First Lady of Georgia and the wife of President Mikheil Saakashvili, will be at Women Deliver 2010. Ms. Roelofs is a noted advocate for women and girls and founded the charity foundation, SOCO which is active in advancing reproductive health and neonatal care. We asked Ms. Roelofs to speak about her the needs of girls and women in her country, and what she hopes to get from attending Women Deliver.

Maureen McTeer Says “Put Up the Money and Save the Mothers ”

Maureen Anne McTeer, Canadian author and lawyer, and the wife of Joe Clark, the 16th Prime Minister of Canada wrote an op-ed in The Globe and Mail this week with a message to Prime Minister Harper. She gets to the heart of it when she writes, "Canada has a historic opportunity to lead on this issue." With just one month to go before the G8/G20 summits, Canada is primed to make a real, strong, and lasting commitment to maternal health that can convince other G8/G20 countries to follow suit.

PICK UP THE PHONE: A Call on Maternal Health

Tomorrow at 8pm (ET) the ONE campaign is holding an interactive conference call on maternal health with David Lane, ONE's President and CEO, and Christy Turlington Burns, who is holding a panel at Women Deliver on June 7 about the role of media in raising awareness around public health issues. She will also be previewing her new documentary film, NO WOMAN, NO CRY on Monday, 7 June 2010 at Women Deliver (see a list of all the cultural events at Women Deliver here). The call is sure to cover many topics of interest to Women Deliver, so I've included the information below in case you'd like to rsvp.

Celebrate Mother’s Day: News Round-Up

Did you see all the amazing Mother’s Day articles that called attention to global maternal health and the need to provide for the hundreds of thousands of mothers who die in pregnancy and childbirth every year? Below are some of the highlights. A big thank you to every journalist, blogger, and author who chose to celebrate Mother's Day by drawing attention to the problem of maternal mortality around the world.

Canada Should Take a Seat at the Maternal-Health Table, Says The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail wrote a terrific editorial on the current issues around Canada’s attempts to incorporating maternal health in discussions at the G8 Summit. As the article says:

“Canada has expressed a desire to champion the issue of maternal, reproductive and child health at the G8 summit.

So it is strange in the extreme that the country has yet to respond to an invitation to attend a global conference on the subject, to be held June 7-9, in Washington, just weeks before the G8 gathering.”

Women Deliver Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Birth Control Pill

May 9th, 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the approval of the birth control pill in the US, coincidentally also Mother’s Day. Women Deliver will celebrate this golden anniversary by holding an all-day symposium on reproductive health technology, “50 Years after the Pill — The Revolution Continues,” during the Women Deliver conference, June 7-9 in Washington, DC. The symposium will be opened by psychosexual therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, Dr. Nafis Sadik. It will feature experts in the field of reproductive health discussing the social, economic, and health benefits of modern contraceptives, in addition to where availability has fallen short for women in much of the developing world.

UN Secretary-General Launches Global Effort on Women’s Health

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 14 April – With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is announcing the development of a Joint Action Plan for accelerating progress on maternal and newborn health.

“No woman should die bringing life into the world,” said Secretary-General Ban. We must create a seamless continuum of care that helps to improve the health of women from pregnancy through childbirth and builds the foundation for a healthy society.”

Every year, hundreds of thousands of women and girls die in pregnancy or childbirth, and another 10-15 million suffer severe or long-lasting illnesses or disabilities caused by complications.  The Joint Action Plan will bring together key partners -- including Governments, foundations, the corporate sector, civil society, and United Nations agencies -- in a targeted effort to improve the health of women and children.

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