The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced that it will more than double its investments, to $776 million, in efforts to improve maternal health and child nutrition over the next six years.
The additional funds will support efforts to reach women and children with solutions proven to improve nutrition, including breastfeeding and food fortification, and expand research on new approaches; help women and adolescent girls increase their chances of having a safe pregnancy and healthy, well-nourished children; improve food systems so as to ensure better access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food year-round; catalyze a data revolution to strengthen the evidence base for action and track progress toward goals and commitments; and boost programs in India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Burkina Faso, where the high burden of malnutrition presents a significant opportunity to effect positive change.
The foundation's commitment, announced by Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates at the European Commission's European Development Days forum in Brussels, will unlock $180 million in additional matched funding from the UK Department for International Development. In addition, the foundation announced a $500,000 grant to the European Commission in support of its National Information Platforms for Nutrition initiative, which aims to strengthen national governments' ability to track and analyze the impact of their nutrition programs.
"Nutrition is an investment in our collective future, in the potential of individuals, communities, and nations," said Gates, who called on European donors to continue championing maternal and child nutrition at the UN's Financing for Development conference in July and the UN General Assembly in September. "One of the most profound things I've learned in the foundation's first fifteen years is the critical role that women and girls play in reducing poverty and improving health. This is especially the case when it comes to nutrition. From their leadership as farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers to their role as mothers; investment in women and girls will be key to improving nutrition globally."