The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announces new $776 million investment in nutrition to tackle child mortality and help all women and children survive and thrive
Melinda Gates makes announcement in Brussels during European Development Days
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (June 3, 2015, 12:30pm CET) – Melinda Gates today urged European leaders to make the health and nutrition of women and children a top priority, and announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will more than double its investments in nutrition to $776 million over the next six years as part of a new commitment to nutrition. The co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made the announcement at the European Development Days (EDD), Europe’s leading forum on development and international cooperation organized by the European Commission.
“Malnutrition is the underlying cause of nearly half of all under-5 child deaths,” said Gates. “Yet for too long the world has underinvested in nutrition. Today we see an opportunity to change that. Along with the Gates Foundation, many European donors are now prioritizing nutrition, which we believe will be one of the fundamental solutions to help cut child mortality in half by 2030.”
The announcement unlocks $180 million in additional matched funding from the UK’s Department for International Development who had committed to match 1:2 any pledge additional to those made at the Nutrition for Growth summit in 2013.
Every year, millions of children die because they don’t get the optimal nutrition during the critical 1,000 day period from their mother’s pregnancy until their second birthday. Children who miss out on good nutrition during this time never fully grow physically or mentally, limiting their ability to learn in school and reducing their productivity as adults.
The Gates Foundation’s new approach to nutrition will:
- Reach women and children with solutions proven to improve nutrition, such as breastfeeding and food fortification, and expand research into innovative new approaches.
- Help women and adolescent girls before they become pregnant, improving the likelihood they’ll have a safe pregnancy and a healthy, well-nourished child.
- Improve food systems (in conjunction with the agriculture sector) to help ensure people have better access to safe, nutritious and affordable food year-round.
- Catalyze a data revolution in nutrition to strengthen the evidence-base for action, inform decisions and track progress toward goals and commitments.
- Focus work in India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, where there is both a high burden of malnutrition and a significant opportunity to affect positive change.
“Nutrition is an investment in our collective future, in the potential of individuals, communities and nations,” said Gates. “One of the most profound things I’ve learned in the foundation’s first 15 years is the critical role that women and girls play in reducing poverty and improving health. This is especially the case when it comes to nutrition. From their leadership as farmers, entrepreneurs and consumers to their role as mothers; investment in women and girls will be key to improving nutrition globally.”
As Gates noted in her remarks, 2015 is the most important year for international development in a generation – and that European leadership over the next few months will be a critical. Coming just days before the G7 potentially announces in Germany an initiative to boost food security and improve nutrition, EDD marks the first in a series of global moments for European governments to demonstrate their commitment to improving nutrition through investments across sectors.
“The world has made remarkable strides in nutrition since the Millennium Development Goals were created,” said Gates. “Investments from European leaders have been at the center of much of this progress and people should feel proud of the contributions made by European governments. However, there are still far too many children dying because of poor nutrition. It is not acceptable that a quarter of children around the world are stunted – physically and mentally – and will never achieve their full potential. We must do more to address this.”
Gates called on European donors to continue championing maternal and child nutrition at the Financing for Development conference in July and the UN General Assembly in September – where world leaders will be finalizing targets and making financial commitments to support the next generation of efforts to reduce poverty and improve global health.
To achieve these goals the world needs to come together, as global citizens, like never before, and commit to take action. Gates urged Europeans to show their support for women and children’s health this year by signing up to become Global Citizens for development and endorse a roadmap to end poverty by 2030.
NOTES TO EDITORS
At the event, the foundation also announced a new $500,000 grant to the European Commission to support the Commission’s National Information Platforms for Nutrition initiative, which aims to strengthen countries' ability to track and analyze the impact of their nutrition programs.
Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for International Development, United Kingdom:
“Poor nutrition in childhood endangers lives and has a massive impact on a child’s ability to learn and then earn a decent living. This acts as a brake on economies across the developing world. This vital funding will enable women and children to get the right nutrition at the right time, meaning safer pregnancies and healthier babies.
This investment is in all our interests. By promoting a healthier, more productive workforce and helping these countries to grow we are not just giving millions a better chance to lift themselves out of poverty, we are also developing new markets for Britain to trade with.”
Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission:
“We have made huge progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015,” said Commissioner Mimica. “But until every child is properly nourished we cannot reduce our efforts. That's why the EU has committed to provide €3.5 billion in actions towards improving nutrition by 2020.”
About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.