Bill and Melinda GatesFrederic Stevens | Getty Images

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says new technology and learnings are being turned into new tools and interventions that could substantially lift survival rates for mothers and babies in developing countries.

The report highlights seven new innovations that could save two million mothers and babies’ lives by 2030. They include a dollar package that can reduce post birth bleeding – the biggest maternal deaths cause – a new probiotic supplement, multiple micronutrient supplements and a new one time infusion of iron for women.

“That’s 2 million families spared an unimaginable heartbreak – and 2 million more people who can shape and enrich our world,” the foundation says in its 7th Goalkeepers Report, co-authored by Bill and Melinda French Gates. “We need policy changes, political will, more investment into women’s health, and health care workers – including midwives.”

Globally, a mother dies every two minutes from complications due to childbirth, according to research by the foundation. The picture is worst in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is estimated that 390 women will die in childbirth for every 100,000 live births by 2030, more than five times the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals target.

The World Bank says while sub-Saharan Africa’s health systems appear to have avoided a catastrophic impact from the coronavirus, and in fact benefitted from a strengthening of its public health systems, improving them remains critical in the short-, medium- and long-term.

FILE PHOTO: Two SDG target that are off track graphic. Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gates Foundation says this is especially important given how far the world is from fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals, half the way from the 2030 targets.

“The ambition was to end all preventable child deaths by 2030, and to cut the maternal mortality rate to less than 70 out of every 100,000 births. We are far off-track on both goals— but that didn’t have to be the case,” it says. “We need to listen to what women want and ensure women have a say in their own healthcare. And ultimately, we need to commit together that we no longer accept preventable deaths of mothers and babies around the world.”


And the lack of progress isn’t restricted to developing countries alone, the report found. Even in high income countries like the United States, black and indigenous women are dying at three times the rate of white women.

That needs to change,” writes Melinda French Gates. “We have seen over and over again that when countries actually prioritize and invest in women’s health, they unleash a powerful engine for progress that can reduce poverty, advance gender equality, and build resilient economies.”

The other interventions include the provision of:

· Antenatal corticosteroids, which are given to women who will give birth prematurely toaccelerate fetal lung growth

· Azithromycin, which reduces maternal infections during pregnancy and prevents

infections from spiraling into sepsis and,


· An AI enabled portable ultrasound that empowers nurses and midwives to monitor high-risk pregnancies in low-resource settings to ensure that risks are diagnosed and addressed early

The foundation is calling for more research into ways of saving lives and also in empowering women in their motherhood journeys.

“The world has come so far, so quickly in our understanding of how to save the most fragile lives,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Gates Foundation. “The world can and must do more to achieve a healthier, more prosperous, and equal world.”

FILE PHOTO: Opportunity to save millions of lives graphic. Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.