Gates issues call for funding ahead of child, maternal health summit

An unacceptable number of newborn babies are dying in poor countries because the developed world simply isn’t investing enough money to save them, says noted philanthropist Melinda Gates. Gates issued an international call for more funding Tuesday as she helped launch new research in the medical journal The Lancet on the plight of new mothers, babies and young children in developing countries.

OTTAWA — An unacceptable number of newborn babies are dying in poor countries because the developed world simply isn’t investing enough money to save them, says noted philanthropist Melinda Gates.

Gates issued an international call for more funding Tuesday as she helped launch new research in the medical journal The Lancet on the plight of new mothers, babies and young children in developing countries.

The frank talk from Gates means there will be more pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to make further spending commitments as he hosts a major international meeting next week on his signature aid initiative — maternal, newborn and child health. Harper committed $2.8 billion to cause at the G8 summit Canada hosted in 2010, and is chairing a three-day international meeting in Toronto May 28-30 as a follow-up to raise awareness.

Each year 2.9 million newborn babies die around the world, while another 2.6 million are stillborn, the Lancet study concluded.

That’s half as many as in 1990, but the mortality rate is still too high, according to the 55 experts from 18 countries that contributed to Tuesday’s report.

“While the statistics about newborn babies are dire, they point to opportunity for improvement. Many newborn deaths could have been prevented with existing interventions,” Gates writes in a piece co-authored with Rwanda’s health minister, Agnes Binaghawo.

“These babies are dying not because we lack the knowledge to save them; they are dying for a lack of attention and investment.”

Gates is the co-chair of the foundation named after her and her husband, Bill. Their foundation joined six countries in contributing to Harper’s initiative in 2010.

Gates and Binaghawo argue that more money should be spent because “the evidence shows that a few inexpensive, proven interventions can go a long way.”

That includes better care for pregnant women and newborns at the time of birth and modest improvements in the care of sick newborns.

The Lancet study estimates that by 2020 it would cost about 91 cents per person to lower the annual death rate of newborns by 1.3 million, while reducing stillbirths by 530,000 each year.

“More funding is essential for change to take place in countries,” the study says.

Dr. Mickey Chopra, the chief of health for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said funding has been steadily increasing, but more money is needed.

“Within that, newborns have been relatively neglected in terms of funding, and within that stillbirths have been completely no growth in resources,” Chopra said in an interview.

The Lancet study, titled “Every Newborn,” makes no direct reference to Canada or Harper’s initiative, which the prime minister has since elevated to Canada’s “flagship” development priority.

The Harper summit has been dubbed “Saving Every Woman, Every Child.”

Harper is expected to take a very public role on the first day of next week’s summit when a panel discussion on “delivering results for women and children” is to take place.

“It is actually an objective fact that Canada has been one of the leaders in this area,” Chopra said.

The first day is also expected to focus on immunization and nutrition, two key aspects of the Harper government’s strategy for addressing the problem.

One of Canada’s major multilateral allies, the GAVI Alliance, which focuses on vaccinating children in poor countries from diseases such diarrhea and pneumonia, kicked off its own major funding drive on Tuesday.

GAVI announced that it is seeking $7.5 billion to fund its programming between 2016 and 2020. The public-private health partnership was founded in 2000, and also counts the Gates foundation as a key supporter.

GAVI said its needs the fresh infusion of funds because it says it can save five to six million lives in the coming five years, twice its previous rate.

Just Posted

Blackfalds firefighter battling cancer

A volunteer firefighter in Blackfalds for 15 years, Dave Sutherland now battling… Continue reading

Red Deer transit users are concerned about the future

But recreation centre users are glad facility hours were maintained

Community cardiac awareness dinner and show to be held

Continued focus to bring cardiac catheterization lab to Red Deer

Red Deer businesses react to 2.02 per cent tax increase for 2018

Chamber would prefer zero increase, while DBA thinks it’s reasonable

Bring on the rodeo says Red Deer County mayor

Canadian Finals Rodeo’s move to Red Deer good for whole region, says Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month