Tag Archives: Melinda Gates

Why Child Survival Rates Continue to Improve

Last week Melinda Gates, the Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote on Impatient Optimists that the most important statistic in the world is the rate of child survival. It is one of the only health statistics that improves year after year. 300,000 more children are alive this year than last and you can be assured that based on 50 years of research, even more children will be alive next year than in 2013.

Key interventions like immunizations, breastfeeding, family planning, maternal health, fortified foods, and greater access to health care are keeping more children under five and neonates alive. Despite the annual improvement rate of child survival, however, massive, global improvements are slow. In fact, according to UNICEF’s new report, Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, the global health community is 15 years off target to reach a worldwide reduction of two thirds of child deaths. Progress is happening, but not fast enough. 5000 children under five die each day from the leading causes of child mortality: diarrhea and pneumonia.

Vastly improving child health can be challenging, but there are victories along the way. In fact, Ethiopia (one of the world’s poorest countries) has effectively reduced its child mortality rate by two thirds. How have they done it? They have achieved a reduction of two thirds of child deaths through family planning, immunizations, greater health care and political will. Watch the video from UNICEF that shows Ethiopia’s child survival story.

UNICEF’s new progress report shows the current global state of child survival and mortality rates. What is particularly important to note is neonatal mortality is growing at a quick clip and therefore is becoming a larger percentage of under-five deaths. In fact, according to the report, neonatal deaths now account for 37 percent of all under-five deaths. To combat rising neonatal mortality the global health community has unified to rally behind Every Newborn: An Action Plan to End Preventable Births. Learn more at www.globalnewbornaction.org.

You can also learn more about what you can do to improve child survival rates on UNICEF’s interactive progress report.

Photo: UNFPA/Francine Egberts

Social Good Moms and the Global Team: Our Weekend at Blogher

The largest women’s blogging conference, Blogher, just wrapped last weekend and we were there to join our friends at Save the Children for an intimate dinner at Phil Stefani’s in Chicago to discuss the lifesaving and uplifting work they do around the world for women, children, and families. I also spoke at the dinner and shared photos and experiences I have had visiting Save the Children sites in Ethiopia, India, and Zambia.

While the photo above doesn’t show everyone who attended the dinner several members of the Global Team of 200 including Nicole Melancon, Jennifer Barbour, Amanda Moutaki, Stacey Weckstein, and Kristine Brite (not in photo) were there. Also in photo: Tanya Weinberg and Phil Carroll of Save the Children.

Additionally, in a video address to BlogHer, Melinda Gates urged women bloggers to use their influence for good. In that address Gates mentioned Mom Bloggers for Social Good and the work we’ve done this year to spread the word about newborn health. That was a nice surprise indeed!

Thank you, Melinda Gates, for recognizing our community and the work we do for mothers and babies.

Family Planning Conversations During Women Deliver #WD2013

The second day of the Women Deliver conference was led by robust conversations and discussions about family planning. Wednesday’s events began with the plenary session: Global Progress on Family Planning—Putting Women at the Heart of the Global Health Agenda which was opened by Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Increased momentum has quickly developed worldwide for a global family planning effort to ensure more women have voluntary access to contraceptives since last year’s London Family Planning Summit.

The consensus throughout all of the family planning discussions (you can watch via Livestream) is that several important, systematic steps must first be achieved in order to ensure women and girls have access to adequate reproductive health including:

  • bringing on more financial commitments in order to fund family planning commodities and services to reach an additional 120 million women
  • ensuring that commitments are being honored
  • creating iron-tight distribution channels in order to make sure women in even the most remote areas have access to family planning services, contraceptives
  • engaging men and boys in the process in order to make sure that access to family planning does not become stalled in local areas or even on country or regional bases

During the Plenary Lunch: Developing Countries’ Strategies Towards Reaching the FP2020 Goals – Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health, Ethiopia, Matia Kasaija, Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Uganda and Dr. Mojisola Odeku, Director, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative had a robust discussion about their respective countries’ work toward increased access to contraceptives.


I have to agree with Dr. Admasu, Ethiopia’s Health Minister. On a recent trip to Ethiopia I saw adequate supplies and information about contraceptives and family planning at every health post I visited.

Family Planning - Ethiopia




  • If you want to know individual country’s family planning coverage and unmet need visit the World Health Organization’s recently released World Health Statistics 2013.
  • If you want to know all of the commitments from the London Summit on Family Planning visit Family Planning 2020.

Photo: UN Photo

[Liveblog] HALIMA HIMA #TEDxChange

I would ask myself every day:

Did I give lately of what I hold dearest. 

“Never cease searching for education,” her grandmother would tell her.

Her grandmother said education is a harmonious combination of knowledge, humility and purpose.

I grew up in a small town in Northern Niger. My mother, who never graduated from high school, would often say no dinner until you finish your lessons.

The only time I felt bitterness in her voice is when she talked about how much she had finished her studies.

My father was the type of person who would make you feel really bad about not trying hard enough.

It was guided by hopes of my mother and resilience from my father that I became more acquainted with the realities of girls my age in rural areas. We faced threats, yet when we engaged in communities it became clear to me that we had to bring together people who would not sit together.

If we are really to create meaningful discourse in a community we had to bring everyone together.

Only 1 in 4 girls completed primary school. I wondered why and I asked myself what can I do to make a difference.

Yet it was only 7 years later that I realized that the fate of my country rested on the fate of these girls.

Upon traveling to New Mexico.

“Never forget where you come from and stay true to yourself,” her grandmother told her.

My mother told me to be courageous. My father told me be like the camel, but don’t anyone treat you like one.

I learned change often starts with an individual.

Challenges are no longer an excuse. Instead they are an opportunity to look for alternatives.

Two out of three people in poverty are women in rural areas in Niger.

You cannot invest in an individual. You cannot invest in a group and expect that to be enough for a girl. You have to invest in social allies. She would need support, more than just mentoring.

In talking with a women in Niger, she asked,

What she hoped for the future:

I wish I had a second chance, but truly I do not hope much for myself at least. But I can assure my daughter will go to school and remain in school longer than I did.

Despite my fears I accepted today because I hope that girls who grow up in places that don’t even appear on the world map will dream and achieve.

Q & A with Melinda Gates

How do we get those voices out there?

Answer: It is really important to listen to the communities at the beginning. We need to be there at stage minus 1, in fact.



Liveblogging #TEDxChange Today at 12 PM EST

Today I will liveblog TEDxChange from 12 PM – 1:30 PM EST (9 AM – 10:30 AM PST). You can follow all of my liveblog posts here at mombloggersforsocialgood.com/tag/tedxchange. Also, you can follow my twitter updates at @socialoodmoms and follow the entire conversation at #TEDxChange.

The theme of TEDxChange this year is positive disruption. You can see the six speakers here who range from a communications specialist who fosters social change to a NIgerian youth poet to a former foreign correspondent who now writes about poverty and global hunger.

You can watch a live stream of TEDxChange at TEDxChange.org starting at 12 PM EST/ 9 AM EST.

[youtube http://youtu.be/dAfxbibPoGE]
Also follow @gatesfoundation for live posts as well as posts from other TEDxChange livebloggers.

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