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Gates Foundation To Double Family Planning Efforts

Ruby de Luna

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced it will double its investment to make contraception more available in poor countries. Melinda Gates offered details yesterday at a London summit. KUOW's Ruby de Luna reports.


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will increase its family planning funding by $560 million. Foundation co–chair Melinda Gates made the announcement Wednesday at a family planning summit. Melinda Gates told the audience she and her husband had no hesitation in making this decision.

Gates: "Helping women get access to contraceptives saves their lives. It improves the health of mothers and children, and as you heard today it increases children's school attendance. Family planning leads to more prosperous families, and at the national level, as you've heard, it's even linked to GDP growth."

Gates says she wants to see more contraception options available to women. Clinics in developing countries stock mostly condoms. She would like women to have other choices such as IUDs, and injectable forms of birth control. Also, gates wants to it make it easier for women to get to a clinic for family planning services.

Gates: "You heard me talk earlier about Sadie who I met in Niger. She was travelling 15 km to get an injection. But let's ask ourselves, what if we didn't have to travel to that clinic? If we put it in her perspective, how can we keep her in her village to get the contraceptive she wants?"

The foundation's move has already provoked criticism in some religious circles. Some argue that funding for family planning doesn't solve poverty, and that money could be better spent on other needs like education, or health care.

The foundation reports that the summit raised more than $4.5 billion from donor countries, and private sector groups. It estimates the new financial commitment will help 120 million women and young girls.

I'm Ruby de Luna, KUOW News.

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