How to Save 3 Million Mothers

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What if someone told you that for the next 9 days, every single woman who gives birth, no matter where on Earth she lives, would die during her delivery?
Obviously you would be horrified. That’s 3.3 million women. You would want the world to do everything possible to save them.

Of course (and thankfully), this is just a hypothetical example. But the fact is, over the next 15 years, we actually can save that many women, by investing more to keep them healthy while giving birth:

It’s true that 15 years is a lot longer than a few days—but morally it’s no different. We should do what we can to protect women during childbirth.

These numbers come from a study published in The Lancet and funded by our foundation that examined what’s possible if the world steps up its investments in the health of the poor. For maternal mortality, that means doing things like giving more women access to family planning and safe delivery, plus expanding pre- and post-natal care.

Later this summer I’ll write about the level of investment required. But the study’s conclusion is clear: With the right investments, we can close the health gap between rich and poor countries—meaning that every country in the world will have child-mortality rates that are as low as the rate in America or the United Kingdom in 1980. That would be one of the humanity’s greatest accomplishments ever.

Leaders from around the world will be especially focused on these issues in September, when the United Nations adopts a set of goals regarding what should be done for the poor over the next 15 years. Those goals will be the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals, which the U.N. adopted in 2000 and which did an amazing job of focusing the world on key metrics of human welfare.

I’m optimistic that the new goals can accomplish two key things: Bring more focus to the fight to improve the health of the world’s poor, and draw in more funding. If we get this right, we can make unprecedented progress by 2030.

If you want to learn more about the U.N.’s goals for 2030 and what you can do to help, I’d encourage you to become a Global Citizen.

First published at

Bill Gates

William Henry "Bill" Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor. Gates originally established his reputation as the co-founder of Microsoft, the world’s largest PC software company, with Paul Allen. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, CEO and chief software architect, and was also the largest individual shareholder until May 2014. He has also authored and co-authored several books. Today he is consistently ranked in the Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2014—excluding a few brief periods post-2008. Between 2009 and 2014 his wealth more than doubled from $40 billion to more than $82 billion. Between 2013 and 2014 his wealth increased by $15 billion, or around $1.5 billion more than the entire GDP of Iceland in 2014. Gates is currently the richest man in the world. Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. Gates has been criticized for his business tactics, which have been considered anti-competitive, an opinion which has in some cases been upheld by numerous court rulings. In the later stages of his career, Gates has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000. Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000. He remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect for himself. In June 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work, and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie (who has since left Microsoft), chief software architect, and Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer. Gates's last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in February 2014, taking on a new post as technology advisor to support newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella.

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