Bill’s Better Half – Melinda Gates Helping Women & Children in Africa
February 13, 2010 § 4 Comments
At the end of January I wrote a post describing Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and now full-time philanthropist, as a Renaissance Man. No doubt his wife, Melinda, has had a little something to do with that.
Recently, Melinda Gates traveled to the African countries of Benin and Malawi with French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Their purpose? To see the results of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “efforts to prevent mother-child HIV transmission, increase the safety of childbirth, and ensure access to contraceptives,” which Ms. Gates describes in her photo essay, “The Fight for African Women’s Lives,” published on The Daily Beast. And the results look promising: a decrease in child deaths in Malawi “by ensuring that women got to health-care facilities to deliver their babies;” an increase in newborn survival rates there by teaching women about “kangaroo care” which keeps babies warm and helps them gain weight; and more HIV-positive Benini women on antiretroviral drugs to save the lives of the women and prevent transmission of the disease to their babies.
These solutions are simple and complex at the same time: not “rocket-science” in their conception, but infinitely challenging in their execution. It is encouraging to see substantive changes being made and lives being saved, and this positive message needs to get out. Given the Foundation’s commitment to publish the outcome of each initiative, be it a success or failure, I believe what I’m reading. And, when Melinda Gates says, “As a mom, I am deeply committed to helping save the lives of woman and children,” I believe that too.
At times, the problems facing developing countries seem so daunting that it’s tempting to throw in the towel. What I admire about Melinda Gates, and her husband, is that they simply refuse to see this as an option.