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Melinda French Gates' Brief But Spectacular take on making birth safer for moms and babies


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Amna Nawaz: In a recent report, the Gates Foundation laid out the staggering numbers on maternal mortality and offered several interventions it says could save the lives of two million mothers and babies by 2030.

Here is Melinda French Gates' take on prioritizing and investing in women's health.

And a note that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funder of the "NewsHour."

Melinda French Gates, Co-Founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Healthy moms mean healthy babies, and healthy moms are the center of the family, which means they're also the center of the community, and they're center to our economy.

And so when a mom does well, her children do well. And so I think of a mom that I have met a long time ago in Kenya, and she said to me when she's holding her little baby in her hands, her newborn baby, she said: "I want every good thing for this child."

And her name was Mary Ann, and I thought she encapsulates what every mom wants, which is every good thing for their child; 800 moms die a day in childbirth. And by the time you finish watching this Brief But Spectacular episode, another mom will die in childbirth.

Many of the interventions for maternal health are actually quite simple. It's using something we already have and that we all use, azithromycin, so that a mom doesn't get infected at the time of the birth. Or it's I.V. iron.

Yet, in so many of these low-income settings, those simple interventions and tools are not making it out to where moms give birth in health care facilities. When I traveled to Malawi several years ago, I actually saw a baby that was likely to see out the day, very healthy newborn, and one who had been born on the road and the mother had died.

And that baby, because of the birth complications, was unlikely to see out the day. Here in the United States, a woman is three times as likely to die in childbirth than in another high-income country. And it has to do with a system failure, a system that doesn't listen to women, a system that's biased, a system that doesn't spend enough money rolling out the innovations that we know that work.

The single biggest barrier preventing us from saving these moms' lives in childbirth is not focusing on them and saying, this matters.

I met a group in Africa who had really said, enough is enough. We're tired of seeing our sisters die in childbirth, our moms die in childbirth, our wives die in childbirth. Let's do something about it. And they listed what was keeping women from having adequate health care system.

And then they took action. And I thought, that's what it takes, is a group of committed individuals to say, women in our community matter.

I was lucky enough to be with my daughter Jen and her husband, Nayel, at the birth of their own daughter. And to see your own beautiful, healthy daughter give birth to another healthy baby girl is just one of the most joyful times of life.

It made me all the more committed that, in this next generation, women have fantastic health care on the day that their baby is born and all the way through their pregnancy.

My name is Melinda Gates Foundation. This is my Brief But Spectacular take on making birth safer for moms and babies.

Amna Nawaz: And you can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos at

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