Melinda Gates speech – 67th World Health Assembly 20 May 2014

Melinda Gates, co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation addresses delegates at the World Health Assembly, 20 May 2014.

Ms Gates then highlighted ways to improve the health of mothers and newborn babies, emphasizing the value of linking efforts to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health — “the continuum of care”.

She pointed out that: “If women can plan their families, they are more likely to space their pregnancies. If they space their pregnancies, they are more likely to have healthy babies. If women’s babies are healthy, they are more likely to flourish as children. When mothers have healthy pregnancies, and when children thrive, the positive benefits last a lifetime.”

She also called on delegates to pay more attention to newborn babies. Although there has been remarkable global progress in reducing the number of children dying before their fifth birthdays, neonatal mortality rates have declined at a slower pace. The Health Assembly will discuss a new action plan for newborns later this week. Ms Gates and other panellists at today’s technical briefing discussed quality of care around childbirth and its potential to end preventable deaths of mothers and newborn babies and stillbirths, generating a “triple return on investment”.

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