UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals have announced a ten-year, $100 million initiative funded by Lynne and Marc Benioff and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce premature births.
Every year, about fifteen million babies are born premature, more than a million of whom die within the first twenty-eight days. UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland will lead a collaborative effort aimed at reducing the number of premature births and protecting the health of pre-term babies and mothers by addressing the biological, behavioral, and social factors that prevent good prenatal health practices from being widely adopted. Led by scientists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco's Fetal Treatment Center and UCSF Global Health Sciences, the initiative also aims to advance new drugs, diagnostic tools, and medical devices and will freely share technological and practical developments from its work with partners in sub-Saharan Africa and around the globe.
With the gift, Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, have pledged more than $250 million in support of children's health care, including gifts of $100 million to what is now UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in 2010 and earlier this month. "We are thrilled to be partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is as interested in addressing the global issue of pre-term birth as we are," said the Benioffs. "The incredible doctors and scientists at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals will bring their expertise to help save mothers and children around the globe."
"Premature births are one of the leading causes of newborn mortality, in both rich and poor countries," said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We don't know enough about why babies are born pre-term, but we know that when they are, it can lead to serious health consequences. The Benioffs' leadership will help to advance progress and enable children all over the world to realize their full potential."