Access to health facilities can save lives-Melinda Gates


The Co|-chair and Trustee of the Gates Foundation Melinda Gates says access to health facilities can help to save the lives of pregnant women and newborn.

Gates said this on Monday during her presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn conference taking place in Mexico City in Mexico.

The Gates Foundation is currently implementing various projects in Malawi including maternal and newborn health.


Melinda Gates started her speech by citing her encounter with a Malawian mother in her twenties, Sarah Briton who had to travel a long distance to deliver at a health facility.

“Sarah Briton is a remarkable young woman, just coming out of her teens, who I met this summer in Malawi when she was pregnant with her first child.

“When Sarah’s own mother gave birth to her nearly 20 years ago, she did so inside her village home, like millions of other women around the world. No medical attendant was present to help if something went wrong – fortunately, nothing did,” she said.


According to Gates, Sarah’s experience of childbirth in Malawi was very significant because she managed to deliver at a health facility.

“There, while she waited to give birth at a maternity home, she learned about the benefits of eating well, of breastfeeding, of family planning, of personal hygiene, and of immunizations.

A maternity waiting home is a facility within easy reach of a hospital or health centre which provides emergency obstetric care.

Gates said lives of women and children the world over can be saved if women and children have access to health quality care.

She also said the Millennium Development Goals were a success.

“There is no better evidence of this than the progress realized under the Millennium Development Goals. Without a doubt, the MDGs can be considered a resounding success. They focused our collective attention on some of the most serious challenges the world faced at the start of a new century,” she said.

According to Gates, the set targets helped countries to track and measure progress, to reduce poverty, malnutrition, maternal and child mortality, and other problems affecting the world’s poorest people.

Taking his turn, the Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund Babatunde Osotimehin expressed the need for leaders to ensure that women are empowered to take charge of their lives.

He said gender equality becomes central if countries are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The focus now, among others, on the Sustainable Development Goals is to reduce newborn mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births; under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births; and maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

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