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Charity Gates Open Bill Donates €28m To Concern

 

Updated : Jul 29, 2009

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates today pledged $41m (€28.7m) to Irish aid agency Concern to help fight spiralling baby and mother death rates in developing countries.

The massive grant, from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will fund a 'Dragons’ Den'-style initiative to identify new ways of improving essential healthcare in Africa and South Asia.

The ground-breaking plan will field-test bold and inventive ways to overcome barriers to delivering proven maternal, newborn and child health solutions in six countries.

Tom Arnold, chief executive of Concern Worldwide, said the donation would undoubtedly save lives on the ground.

“Half a million women die every year in childbirth, the majority in developing countries,” said Mr Arnold.

“The whole point of this is to look for breakthroughs.”

The scheme will initially be rolled out in Sierra Leone, where more than 25% of children die before reaching their fifth birthday, and Malawi, where one in every 18 women dies during pregnancy or childbirth.

In India and Malawi two-thirds of mothers and children also lack essential health services like vaccinations, skilled care at birth and micronutrient supplements.

Health workers, academics, and community members will be able to bring their ideas to a panel for consideration.

The initiative will seek out, field-test and evaluate at least 27 breakthrough ideas which have the potential for rapidly increasing intervention coverage, as well as the characteristics most conducive to scaling-up.

Mr Arnold said the project was all about discovering and testing new ideas.

“It requires good leadership, an extraordinary team, prudent risk-taking, and a relentless commitment to improving the state of our world,” he added, at the charity’s head office in Dublin.

“That’s a cornerstone of our organisation and that is why we exist. We’re delighted to have this opportunity.”

Jaime Sepulveda, director of the integrated health solutions development programme at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said even the most effective health interventions could only save lives if they reached the people who need them.

“Concern Worldwide’s commitment to seeking innovation from diverse, non-traditional sources will be a key ingredient in the success of this programme,” he said.

 

 

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