•On Wednesday, Foundation co-chair Melinda French Gates said it is unacceptable for women to die giving birth.
•This year the foundation made maternal health the subject of its annual Goalkeepers report, released last week.
Kenya is among the countries that will benefit from a new pledge of $200 million to help save the lives of mothers and children during childbirth.
The pledge was made by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropic donor.
It was announced on Wednesday during the nonprofit’s annual Goalkeepers conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
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 funding will be split in two ways. The foundation said a long-term commitment of up to $100 million will go to the UNFPA Supplies Partnership to help meet the demand for family planning supplies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
According to UNFPA, Kenya is among the countries the countries participating in the UNFPA Supplies Partnership because of its high maternal death rates.
“This funding will go to ensure more women in LMICs are able to access the contraceptives they need and want at a price they can afford. Contraceptives are critical building blocks of women’s power and can accelerate progress toward nearly every SDG—whether that’s ending poverty or improving global health,” Gates Foundation said in a statement.
“This commitment comes at a time when the global funding gap for contraceptives is growing, with the potential to cumulatively reach $1 billion by 2030 if we do not preserve funding and bring in additional support, including through sustainable financing approaches.”
Apart from contraception, the UNFPA Supplies also focuses on ensuring access to essential medicines and supplies for safe childbirth and maternal health. This includes drugs for preventing postpartum haemorrhage, managing complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and promoting safe delivery practices.
The programme also supports efforts to strengthen the healthcare systems in partner countries, including improving supply chain management, training healthcare providers, and increasing community awareness about reproductive health and family planning.
The remaining $100 million will help bring faster access to health products in low- and middle-income countries. This funding will go to Unitaid, doubling the foundation’s previous commitment, to support its work to accelerate the introduction and delivery of new lifesaving solutions at equitable scale, including those for maternal and newborn health.
“Unitaid’s unique approach helps reach the health-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals more quickly. Its previous work unlocked access to more than 100 groundbreaking health products, including those for HIV, TB, and malaria; women’s and children’s health; and pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response,” the Foundation said.
On Wednesday, Foundation co-chair Melinda French Gates said it is unacceptable for women to die giving birth.
She said becoming a grandmother earlier this year reaffirmed her commitment to this cause.
"I was in the delivery room and you see the intense times, and I remember the intense times for me when I'm giving birth, and there's a lot of downtime where I can think about other places I've been in the world, in the delivery room, where moms weren't gonna survive, but my daughter was likely to survive," she said.
This year the foundation made maternal health the subject of its annual Goalkeepers report, released last week.
The report showed 800 women die every day during and following pregnancy and childbirth.
Last year, the Gates Foundation put the spotlight on hunger and promoted its support for crops improved to adapt to climate change and resist agricultural pests.