Gates Foundation calls for investment in women’s health

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By Oluwafunke Ishola

Melinda French-Gates, Co-chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says investing in women’s healthcare, particularly in high quality, affordable, equitable healthcare is a sure way to build a better future we all imagine.

French-Gates said this during the 2023 Goalkeepers Conference held on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York.

According to her, there is  a widening health gap and declining prospects for women globally.

“Maternal mortality is highly preventable, but sadly 800 women die from childbirth daily.

“Statistically, the day a woman gives birth is the most likely day she is to die.

“For every woman who loses their lives in childbirth, 30 more faces long-term consequences- heart failure, stroke, economic consequences, missed pay cheques, lost businesses,” she said.

She noted that most common causes of maternal death like postpartum hemorrhage and infections were often treatable, however, access to treatments depend on the woman’s location.

“Women in two regions of the world, Africa and South-East Asia bear a large number of these burdens accounting for 90 per cent of the maternal deaths.

“That’s more than 250,000 women dying every single year. It’s enough to fill a World Cup stadium four times over.

“Improving maternal health also means improving infant health and survival. It means stronger families, more vibrant communities, and more prosperous societies,” she said.

French-Gates noted that the disparities affecting women’s health were not  limited to maternal mortality but also reflected in other issues from HIV/AIDS to healthcare screening.

She said  that some researchers supported by the foundation had developed innovations that would reshape maternal health, calling for support to scale the innovations.

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Similarly, Bill Gates, Co-chair, Gates Foundation, noted that the work should invest more in humanely driven interventions such as saving mothers, despite political differences.

Gates said that the world had advanced in its understanding of how to save the most fragile lives, noting that with collaboration the knowledge could translate into tangible progress.

Also, Dr Hadiza Galadanci, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Health Sciences, Bayero University Kano, said that data had shown that Nigeria has the highest maternal deaths globally.

Galadanci said  that there was a critical flaw in the way postpartum hemorrhage, (a leading cause of maternal death) was diagnosed.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) means losing more than half a litre of blood within 24 hours of childbirth, affecting  14 million women yearly, and causing the death of over 70,000 in low-income countries.

Galadanci said, “When PPH is identified, doctors, nurses, and midwives have long relied on a series of five treatments to stop the bleeding: uterine massage, oxytocic drugs, tranexamic acid, IV fluids, and genital-tract examination.

“But those interventions were being delivered sequentially—and far too slowly.

“We asked ourselves, why don’t we bundle the interventions together, administering all five at once. We tried it and we decreased cases of bleeding by 60 per cent.”

She noted that scaling the innovation to every clinic, labour ward, hospitals would save more lives, saying it is the next task to be accomplished.

Galadanci said that the world must do more by investing in new lifesaving tools to achieve a healthier and inclusive world. (NAN)

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Edited by Folasade Adeniran

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