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Family Planning Summit Next Month 'Could Mark Turning Point For Maternal Health'

In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin discusses a family planning summit to be held in London next month, writing the UNFPA “is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.” He writes, “More than 200 million women, largely in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can’t access them,” and continues, “Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths.” The summit, co-hosted by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “will be launched to meet this unfilled need for modern family planning in developing countries by tackling the estimated $3.6 billion (£2.3 billion) annual shortfall in investment (.pdf),” he adds.

Blogs Recognize 'World No Tobacco Day'

“By the end of the 21st century, more than one billion people are expected to die from illnesses related to tobacco use primarily in low to middle income countries,” Amie Newman, communications officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and editor of the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, writes in this blog post in recognition of World No Tobacco Day. “We’ll continue to support efforts which reduce the number of deaths and diseases due to tobacco use — especially in developing countries,” she adds (5/31). An AIDS.gov blog post addresses tobacco use by people living with HIV, writing, “Smoking rates of people living with HIV are estimated to be two to three times higher than the national average, and smoking weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight off HIV-related infections” (5/31).

Bill Gates, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Discuss Collaborating On Health, Agriculture Programs

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Wednesday “met Uttar Pradesh [UP] Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow,” India, where they “discussed health care programs in the state that Mr. Gates intends to take up through” the foundation, NDTV reports (Zanane, 5/30). The Gates Foundation will work with the state “on health and related developmental projects, particularly in the areas of maternal, neonatal, child health and telemedicine,” India Today writes (Srivastava, 5/30). According to NDTV, “A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed within two months between the UP government and the foundation, with the objective that the foundation shall provide technical, management and program design support in maternal, neonatal and child health, vaccination and other health- and agriculture-related programs” (5/30). “‘The foundation will also support the state in tackling health-related challenges by experimenting with new and innovative methods for effective behavioral changes, delivery of services and management of health systems,’ the UP CM said after meeting Gates,” the Daily Mail writes (Srivastava, 5/30).

Bill Gates, Chinese VP Discuss Health Care During Meeting

“Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Tuesday met with Bill Gates,” co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “at the Great Hall of the People, calling for closer cooperation between [the foundation] and its Chinese partners on medical care, agriculture and technology,” Xinhua/China Daily reports. Xi told Gates “that he appreciates the organization’s enduring dedication to improving the health and living conditions of human beings,” according to the news service, which adds Xi also “applauded the foundation’s commitment to eliminating poverty and preventing and treating diseases globally, as well as its cooperation with Chinese partners in areas including health care, agriculture and technology.”

PSI Interviews Gates Foundation Official About Child Health

In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, “PSI’s Nutrition Research Adviser Dr. Abel Irena talks with Saul Morris, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about progress that has been made in child health.” Morris addresses treatment for pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria among children, delivery and access to integrated health systems, the Gates Foundation’s focus on newborn health, and the most effective steps to take to reach the fourth Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality by 2015 (5/24).

Polio Eradication Must Not Fail

“[P]eople everywhere have a stake in eradicating polio, as we have stamped out smallpox,” a Bloomberg View editorial states, adding, “Immunizing the last unvaccinated children on the planet is an expensive and complex undertaking, and worth it in the long run.” The editorial notes, “If polio transmission could be stopped by 2015, the net benefit from reduced treatment costs and productivity gains through 2035 would be $40 billion to $50 billion, according to a 2010 study.”

Kaiser Family Foundation Survey Highlights Importance Of Communicating Aid Successes

In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, communications officer and blog editor Amie Newman reports on a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, released Monday, that examines Americans’ views on U.S. global health issues. Newman details a number of the survey’s findings, including that the poll found that “roughly half of Americans (52 percent) now say the news media spends too little time covering global health issues, up from 41 percent in 2010.” She writes, “It’s critical that our news media cover these issues in a way that touches people, and helps people to understand exactly what’s happening in the countries, cities, villages, towns, health centers and homes of people around the world.” She notes that both KFF President and CEO Drew Altman, in a column discussing the survey results, and Gates Foundation Director of Global Brand and Innovation Tom Scott, in a recent blog post, have stressed the importance of properly communicating successful aid stories and data (5/21).

Implementation Of Global Vaccine Action Plan Must Include All Stakeholders

“This week in Geneva, health ministers from governments around the world will meet at the 65th World Health Assembly (WHA) for their annual meeting to discuss health issues that affect everyone everywhere,” Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Among the resolutions they will consider is one supporting the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a road map to ensure that by the end of this decade, every child, everywhere enjoys the full benefits of immunization,” he notes.

Public Radio International Receives 2-Year, $1.6M Gates Foundation Grant For Global Health Initiative

“Public Radio International (PRI) announces that it has received a two-year, $1.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to lead a major initiative to raise awareness, understanding and engagement around critical issues of health and development worldwide,” a PRI press release reports. According to the press release, “PRI will use the grant to further extend the reach and impact of coverage around critical issues affecting the world’s poorest nations, such as maternal health and infant mortality; water, sanitation and hygiene; vaccines and immunization; infectious and chronic diseases; and food security and nutrition” (5/21).

Focusing Attention On Population, Reproductive Health Issues

“As representatives of the World Health Organization Member States arrive in Geneva this week for the 65th World Health Assembly, I feel a cautious optimism about the future, and the future health of Africa,” Joy Phumaphi, co-chair of the Aspen Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, writes in this post in the Huffington Post Blog. “With two female heads of state in Africa – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia and Joyce Banda in Malawi – women’s health and gender equality are no longer marginalized, they have become central to a nation’s potential for development and prosperity,” she continues, adding the two “share a vision and passionate resolve to improve the lives of women in Africa — and like me they are founding members of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health.”