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COVID-19 Response Plans
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is an international organization that Bill and Melinda Gates conceived and cofounded in the late 1990s. Its mission is to supply low-income countries with vaccinations they might otherwise have gone without. The organization has helped vaccinate more than 760 children. Additionally, it has saved more than 13 million lives in developing countries across the world. Gavi has recently aimed rigorous funding and supply distribution towards fighting COVID-19. The Vaccine Alliance has set aside $200 million for protective equipment, health care workers and increased testing with funding going towards low-income countries such as Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Sudan, Afghanistan, Liberia and Zimbabwe. Gavi’s 2020 initiatives and COVID-19 response plans are all efforts to prepare and provide for global health in the coming years.

The Alliance’s Fifth Phase

Gavi operates using a five-year strategic model and what it calls “phases”. With Phase I beginning in 2000, the alliance has followed this plan to the present day. In December 2019, the organization approved Phase V, a model that it will implement in 2021 and complete in 2025. Gavi tracks its success throughout these phases by creating specific goals in areas such as vaccines, equity and sustainability.

  1. The Vaccine Goal: The vaccine goal focuses on effective medical outreach and accessibility. It calls for the positive integration of vaccines into countries with the highest need. Gavi will then work with each country to identify its most prominent infection to decide which vaccination would be most helpful, also considering population when determining quantity. Further criteria of the vaccine goal include the continued introduction of immunizations that in turn will pave the way for proper health care and preparedness against preventable diseases.
  2. The Equity Goal: By bolstering health care systems, the equity goal promotes the importance of accessibility. With Gavi’s financial support, governments can prioritize “reaching the unreached.” This goal primarily deals with immunization delivery services and supply chains that will ensure the sustainability of accessible health care in that country. By ensuring that each individual receives what they need, the organization will cultivate further trust in immunization.
  3. The Sustainability Goal: The sustainability goal works to strengthen administrative support for immunizations. This support will hopefully call for a nationwide commitment towards eradicating death from preventable infections. By promoting public resources, instituting a system within the country to continue to fund immunizations and adding a system to ensure post-transition support, Gavi can safeguard accessible vaccines in developing countries.

The Gavi COMAX AMC

Inspired by its 2019 pneumococcal AMC commitment, Gavi announced The Gavi Advanced Market Commitment for COVID-19 vaccines (COMAX AMC) as one of its COVID-19 response plans at the Geneva June 2020 summit. Similar to previous market commitments for infections such as pneumococcal pneumonia and Ebola, this financial plan works to encourage vaccine makers to produce large quantities of immunizations without the worry of over-investing. Stock-piling now can guarantee that vaccines are available and have the ability to be distributed quickly in the future.

Gavi’s COMAX AMC has set a fundraising goal of $2 billion for a vaccine plan-ahead preparation. The first vaccine manufacturing company to contribute to this 2020 plan is AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford. Once a vaccine emerges, AstraZeneca promises to make 300 million dosages available to the world’s poor for distribution. AstraZeneca and Oxford have pledged to work without compensation through the entirety of the pandemic. Additionally, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPRI) will collaborate with COVAX AMC. Furthermore, CEPRI has offered to provide manufacturing funds.

The COVAX Facility

This global access facility works as an extension of the advanced market commitment. The Vaccine Alliance is calling for worldwide participation in a new fair-trade financial plan. Under the COVAX Facility umbrella, upper-middle and high-income countries will pool resources and share risk to create a structurally sound vaccine economy. These joint investments will embolden vaccine companies to intensify manufacturing. As a result, the price of a single vaccine will decrease, making distribution to lower-middle and low-income countries easier. The plan looks to take the uncertainty out of vaccine creation and vaccine investment. In this economic proposition, Gavi argues that COVID-19 is a global catastrophe that will require a global engagement to contain.

Gavi’s 2020 initiatives and COVID-19 response plans reference the importance of a unified approach when it comes to the creation and distribution of critical vaccines. Right now, there has been no successful formulation of a COVID-19 immunization, but Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance is doing what it can to provide monetary aid now as well as for the future.

– Alexa Tironi 
Photo: Wikimedia

Gates Foundation Poverty China
Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, have used their private organization, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to aid China in its goal to eradicate poverty by 2020. Meanwhile, China has had several issues that have contributed to its problems with poverty, including its transition to becoming a more urbanized country back in 2012. The urban population has risen to 52 percent, which is more than the rural population at 48 percent. People continue to move into urban sections of the country in search of better-paying jobs. This becomes a problem as poverty increases as people end up taking underpaying jobs while the cost of living also goes up. Another problem was that 170,000 students attended school in 2010 in Shanghai, while more than three times that amount worked on farms in that same city.

The Game Plan

The Gates Foundation Poverty China project launched a campaign called Goalkeepers to help quicken the process towards ending not only poverty but also inequality and injustice. This coincides with helping achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include gaining quality education, clean water and sanitation, along with universal health care for all.

Despite the issues that a more urbanized China has, it has produced positive results during the past 70 years by lifting over 850 million people out of poverty over a span of 40 years. Meanwhile, others have developed their own plans to get themselves out of poverty by using business sense. One example is when a local Shibadong farmer named Shi Quanhou worked his way out of poverty by running an agritainment farm. Agritainment is a compound word for farms that include both agriculture and entertainment. These farms might include pumpkin patches, petting zoos and corn mazes, among other attractions for a family-friendly atmosphere. Although one cannot say this about other farmers, Quanhou underwent this plan in a desperate measure to help him provide a more secure and prosperous life for his family. Farmers have also found a 12.1 percent increase in their income by transitioning their farms to agritainment farms.

China’s Success

Furthermore, assigned teams have gone to farms and villages to investigate how those areas are performing, making sure that those with struggling land receive assistance. China has also promoted poverty alleviation, which includes e-commerce and providing employment opportunities for over 2.5 million people. It also originated more than 30,000 poverty reduction workshops and classes in order for attendees to gain employment close to home.

With many people still underprivileged, The Gates Foundation Poverty China project also offered its support during this stretch with three solutions that incorporate working with government agencies, advocating for financial services, health care and childhood nutrition. The organization also added a partnership with the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development to research how to remedy these issues through experience within China and also between China and other countries. Establishing stronger platforms that encourage participation in the relief efforts to end poverty has also been part of its long term plan. The Gates Foundation Poverty China is closing in on completing what could very well be the largest turnaround of this global issue in the world’s history.

Helping Health

The Gates Foundation Poverty China plan includes a $33 million grant to combat tuberculosis to the Chinese Ministry of Health. This partnership intends to better detect tuberculosis cases and find a cure for those suffering from it. With over 1.5 million cases each year, this partnership is providing innovative tests, along with patient monitoring strategies to deliver improved treatment and diagnoses across the country.

Additionally, China has developed a plan to decrease TB by creating The Chinese Infectious and Endemic Disease Control Project (IEDC) back in 1991. The World Bank partly funded $58 million to it and the World Health Organization developed it in 1989. The IEDC was a booming success, curing 85 percent of identified patients within two years of its implementation. TB cases decreased by over 36 percent between 1990 and 2000, about 4.1 percent each year.

Infinite Improvement

People have widely recognized China for its dramatic improvement. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out that China has contributed the most to its cause over the last decade. This turnaround means that the livelihoods of many will boost China’s economy and build a more prosperous nation. With that plan in motion, China has almost eradicated rural poverty by refocusing on areas where the poorest live in places with poor infrastructure and have special needs. China went from a staggering 97.5 percent in 1978 to a meager 3.1 percent among the rural population at the end of 2017. With 2020 already underway, President Xi Jinping has informed the Chinese people that anyone in an impoverished state should receive medical benefits, such as insurance, aid and allowances. With the Gates Foundation Poverty China plan and China’s campaigns and multiple partnerships with local governments, China’s ability to avert its national catastrophe will not only gain global attention from other suffering countries or have more fortunate nations lend a hand, but will be able to lend help of its own.

Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr

Child Health Care in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a fascinating case study relating to the mission of downsizing poverty. Although many Ethiopians do struggle, the country has made significant improvements in recent years. For example, 30 percent have fallen below the poverty line as of 2011. The poverty rate decreased from 44 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2011. During that time, the percentage of Ethiopians who are uneducated decreased from 70 to 50 percent. Additionally, the average life expectancy rose by 10 years. Maternal and child health care in Ethiopia has been on a similar trend of improvement.

Maternal Care

In 2000, only 22 percent of mothers saw a doctor for an antenatal check-up before having their baby. This rate reportedly increased to 37 percent in 2011. Although this progress is promising, one in 52 women in Ethiopia die due to childbirth-related causes every year. Furthermore, 257,000 children in this country will die before reaching age 5. Fortunately, many organizations remain committed to improving maternal and child health care in Ethiopia through a variety of methods.

Organizations Dedicated to Improving Ethiopia’s Maternal and Child Care

USAID has worked alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to bring change to Ethiopia. They have been working to improve coverage of universal family health care plans across the country. These plans include accessible prenatal care for
mothers. They also include increased immunizations and community-based management plans for childhood illnesses.

These two organizations focus on policy and advocacy to achieve their goals. Their success is shown in how poverty has decreased by 45 percent since the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation first established a grant in Ethiopia in 2002. They cannot take all the credit for this improvement, however, as other organizations have joined them in the fight for better maternal and child health care in Ethiopia.

The World Health Organization (WHO), with the support of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, has approached this issue from a different direction. In 2015, the WHO launched a program to monitor and improve the quality of health care in Ethiopian hospitals. In 2015, WHO collected baseline data. This was in addition to training and suggestions for improvement of labor and care in the hospitals.

Improving the Safety of Deliveries

One change implemented by many hospitals was the adaptation of the Safe Childbirth Checklist. The checklist presented 29 essential activities for doctors to perform during childbirth to ensure the safety of the mother and the newborn. The follow-up data collected in 2016 found significant change had been made after the initial visits. This resulted in an improvement in the quality of maternal and child health care in Ethiopia.

This is, as the Gates Foundation puts it, a story of “progress, not victory.” Many Ethiopians continue to struggle, particularly in the realm of maternal and child health. However, the past twenty years of Ethiopia’s history remains hopeful and inspirational, not only for the country’s future but also as an example of the change that is possible. The impact of these organizations on the situation in Ethiopia should serve as a reminder of the potential for positive change.

– Madeline Lyons
Photo: Flickr

Gates Plans to Eradicate Malaria

Bill Gates is currently the second richest person in the world, with a net worth of $95 billion. But he also has a reputation for humanitarianism. As one of the world’s leading philanthropists, Gates is widely considered to be the most prominent humanitarian public figure. Together, he and his wife established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private, charitable foundation that globally combats poverty and enhances healthcare. Now, Gates plans to eradicate malaria by 2040.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, commonly transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. While malaria occurs in roughly 100 countries, it is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. To this end, the disease is common in regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Upon contracting malaria, a person will exhibit symptoms resembling the flu. And if left untreated, malaria can be fatal. However, this is largely preventable.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 207 million cases of malaria reported in 2012. Approximately 627,000 of these cases resulted in death. Significantly, roughly 90 percent of these estimated deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and 77 percent in children under 5 years of age. Given these statistics, the mortality rate of malaria is incredibly slight, at around 0.003 percent. Therefore, malaria does not have to result in death and, moreover, may be prevented entirely. And as Gates plans to eradicate malaria, this possibility may soon become reality.

What’s the Plan?

At the Malaria Summit London 2018, the Gates Foundation pledged to invest $1 billion through 2023 to end malaria. To date, the Gates Foundation has committed $1.6 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Additionally, it has committed almost $2 billion in grants to eradicate the disease. At the summit, Gates states, “It’s a disease that is preventable, treatable and ultimately beatable, but progress against malaria is not inevitable. We hope today marks a turning point against the disease.”

Malaria is not a mystery anymore. Cures and vaccinations already exist to combat the disease. There is a solution, it simply needs funding. Between 2000 and 2012, malaria incidence rates declined 25 percent globally. By establishing protocol, proper resources can render malaria a manageable issue. While this is no small order, Gates plans to eradicate malaria and has the capability to fund it. Undoubtedly, this will leave an indelible, positive mark on the fight for better healthcare and war against global poverty.

Lacy Rab
Photo: Flickr

Solution to PovertyIn 2016, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates blogged about raising chickens as a solution to poverty, especially for those living in extreme poverty—$2 or less per day. He came to that conclusion as a result of his work in sub-Saharan Africa through the Gates Foundation. From his perspective, chickens are easy and cheap to take care of, are a good investment (by breeding and selling at a market price of $5 per chicken) and are a good source of nutrition (providing eggs or money earned from selling chicks).

But can raising chickens really solve global poverty?

Some are skeptical. Chris Blattman, a professor at the University of Chicago who studies poverty, violence, policy and politics in developing countries, wrote an open letter to Gates saying that giving chickens to the poor will only marginally reduce poverty. The laws of supply and demand, he argues, dictate that an increased supply of chickens will drive down prices, thereby cutting into profit margins of those who breed and sell them.

According to Blattman, giving cash might be a better, more versatile solution to poverty. People can invest it as they see fit. Some might buy chickens, but others may purchase fishing poles and lessons or open a shop. He sees a diversified boost to local economies as being more advantageous than a one-size-fits-all model.

The Research

One pilot effort, the Ultra Poor Graduation program, gave livestock (goats and chickens) and basic training to impoverished citizens in places like India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras and Peru, among others. Programs in those six countries were evaluated by researchers from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), who found significant, lasting improvements in living conditions. Participating households earned an average of $80 a year more than those in control groups. The program was also cost-effective in five of six countries, with positive returns ranging from 133 percent in Ghana to 433 percent in India.

IPA researchers also studied the Women’s Income Generating Support (WINGS) program in Uganda, which gave impoverished women $150 cash grants along with basic training and mentorships to attain business skills. Here, households participating in the program earned an average of $202 a year more than those in control groups. In these cases, cash had a greater positive effect than chickens. In many areas, this kind of income boost is enough to bring people above the extreme poverty line.

The Bottom Line

Cash and chickens both seem to lend themselves to improving living conditions, but, as Blattman acknowledges, the definitive study comparing the two has yet to be done.

Divergent approaches to the poverty problem do not have to be in conflict: they can supplement and build on each other. Diversity allows different people, with different opinions, to test and apply various tactics to find a solution to poverty. Those solutions might work in tandem to cover each other’s blind spots and certain geographic areas may be more conducive to different approaches.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

Hemafuse: Clean Blood Transfusions in Impoverished CountriesIn the U.S., there are many people who are willing and able to donate their blood. With a large blood bank available, the U.S. does not have to use extreme measures to perform a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, this is not the case with many impoverished countries; getting a clean blood transfusion in most of these countries is simply not an option. However, a device called Hemafuse has been developed for doctors to help make these clean blood transfusions possible.

Due to the lack of blood donors in poverty-stricken countries, doctors use autologous transfusions to give the patients the blood they needed; this involves using the patient’s own blood for the transfusion. It could be obtained during hemothorax – a condition where the patient’s blood has pooled up in an open cavity, or, alternatively, they could also use the blood resulting from hemorrhaging during an ectopic pregnancy – pregnancy which occurs outside the uterus.

Originally, doctors had to scoop up the patient’s pooled blood with nothing but a soup ladle. They then took the blood collected from the soup ladle and poured it through a filtration system to make the blood cleaner for transfusion. Not only is this unsanitary, but it is a highly complicated process that takes many doctors to perform. It has saved a few lives in the past, but it is inadequate as a permanent solution.

The Hemafuse looks to alleviate all of those problems and make clean blood transfusions in impoverished countries happen. To operate the Hemafuse, doctors need to put the suction inlet into the pooled blood and then pull the pump. Blood is then filtered through the filtration system, removing clots and impurities. After the blood is collected, the doctor then pushes the pump and the blood is then moved into a separate blood bag that is connected to the side of the device. Once there, the blood can be used in a blood transfusion back to the patient the blood originally came from.

This is much safer and cleaner than using a soup ladle. The patient’s blood stays within a closed and sterile system rather than it being exposed to the elements. Not only that, it requires only one or two doctors to use rather than the eight or nine that were previously required. It also costs about $60 per patient use, which is much more affordable than the $250 a normal blood bag would cost.

The Hemafuse device has been backed by many prominent organizations such as USAID, UKAID and the Gates Foundation, among many others. Doctors want clean blood transfusions in impoverished countries to become widespread, so they are willingly coming around to performing clinical trials using Hemafuse. With this device, the soup ladle transfusion will hopefully become a procedure of the past and patients will finally be able to receive the – clean – lifesaving blood that they need.

Daniel Borjas
Photo: Flickr


The Gates Foundation, alongside government organizations from around the globe, is working hard to eliminate the polio virus. Rob Nabors, Director of the Gates Foundation, who oversees policy, advocacy, government relations and communications says he doesn’t think the general public realizes that, in the next two years, polio could be completely eradicated on a global scale.

The poliovirus is passed through contaminated feces and is spread as a result of poor hygiene and sanitation. It is responsible for millions of people becoming paralyzed before vaccines became widely available in the 1950s.

Since the launch of global eradication efforts in 1988, polio incidences across the globe have dropped more than 99 percent. The disease’s occurrence rate plunged to 233 recorded cases in 2012 and occurred in only three countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. India, which was once considered to have the greatest challenge of eliminating polio, was declared free of the disease in February 2012.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four of the six regions of the World Health Organization have been certified polio-free. This includes the Americas in 1994, the Western Pacific in 2000, Europe in 2002 and Southeast Asia in 2014. This constitutes 80 percent of the world’s population currently living in polio-free areas.

Nabors and the rest of the Gates Foundation work hard to educate nations around the globe on the impact of their help. The organization believes it is up to those educated on polio to explain to audiences in the developed world exactly how important the leadership of polio-free countries actually is.

Unfortunately, budget cuts could have a significant impact on the complete eradication of the disease. Proposed cuts in the United States would shrink the budget from $30 billion in 2017 to $20.7 billion in 2018. These proposed budget cuts would make it difficult for organizations such as the Gates Foundation to interact with federal programs. The result would be that areas in need of polio vaccinations and education would not receive nearly as much help.

If polio were to be eliminated, it would become the second disease, the first being smallpox, to be eradicated globally. Proper funds for the delivery of polio vaccinations to areas in need is crucial for the disease’s eradication.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr


Many people falsely believe that increasing healthcare in the least Developed Countries (LDCs) will exacerbate the global population growth problem. In reality, the exact opposite is true.

Statistics show that as healthcare increases around the world, families have fewer children, driving down infant mortality rates as well as population growth. On average, birth rates in More Developed Countries (MDCs) are 1.7 children per family, while in LDCs birth rates average to 4.3 children per family. In LDCs families are having more children to compensate for high infant mortality rates. Parents plan to have around 5 children as an insurance policy, to offset the children that are lost. The World Health Organization, with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), has been working to reshape this ideology since 1990. By increasing planned parenthood facilities, healthcare infrastructure, and vaccinations, families are able to have fewer, healthier children. In Lesser Developed Countries birthrates dropped to 2.6 children per family. Roughly 122 million children’s lives have been saved since 1990.

BMGF has found that the best management practice for raising global health is vaccination. Vaccination rates have gone from under 10 percent in 1980 to 80 percent in 2015 in LDCs, saving countless lives from preventable diseases. This has been possible through the creation of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Gavi is an international non-government organization that serves as the middleman between pharmaceutical companies and governments willing to fund vaccination programs. According to Bill Gates, “Since 2000, Gavi has helped immunize 580 million children around the world. The US is a major donor to Gavi — with bipartisan support — along with the U.K., Norway, Germany, France and Canada. It’s one of the great things the rich world does for the rest of the world.”

While vaccinations are a great first step towards ending poverty, they have their limits. Malnutrition is another key barrier as it is linked to 45 percent of all child deaths. Children missing key nutrients experience both cognitive and physical growth stunting. This is a much harder problem in terms of economic efficacy. It costs one dollar to administer the pentavalent vaccine, which protects against five deadly infections.

Nutrition, on the other hand, is a much more costly and nuanced problem that will require considerable economic growth within the affected countries to truly fix. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation philanthropic work has been indispensable to halving global extreme poverty since 1990.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

 #GivingTuesday CharityThe results of #GivingTuesday show that 2016 turned out to be a successful year in giving back to charity. In contrast with the high spending that occurs on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday offers a chance for the public to give back to charitable causes. According to the statistics, #GivingTuesday has demonstrated “double-digit growth,” projecting much hope for future years. Below are seven ways in which #GivingTuesday exceeded expectations this past year.

  1. iDonate is a popular giving platform that participated in funding for this year’s #GivingTuesday. It was revealed that this fifth consecutive year of the campaign accrued more support than other years. In fact, since 2012 when the campaign began, #GivingTuesday surpassed the initial first-year earnings from $12 million to $168 million for 2016. In addition, $50 million has been donated since 2015, which shows a 44 percent increase in total proceeds.
  2. Early data shows that the campaign received around 1.56 million donations.  The average contribution was over $100, and online donations increased by 20 percent.
  3. #GivingTuesday has gained momentum partially due to the increased utilization of mobile phones and advocacy from celebrities and major companies. The top five issues advocated for this year were education, environment, animals, health care and international affairs.
  4. The use of infographics this year have illustrated the impact #GivingTuesday has had. Similarly, funding platform CrowdRise used a virtual reality app to construct a building in which each brick represented a donation. Final donations ended up constructing a “Giving Tower,” virtually rising 6,853 feet tall which realistically surpasses the world’s current tallest tower in Dubai.
  5. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation started off #GivingTuesday 2016 by agreeing to match one million dollars worth of donations given on www.globalgiving.com at 50 percent. The Foundation’s initial goal of reaching 50 percent was achieved within the first few hours. The Foundation then raised its match point from $500,000 to $900,000. Ultimately, they succeeded in giving back to 9,800 charities.
  6. #GivingTuesday’s founding organization, 92y, compiled a report that revealed increased participation compared to previous years. In 2016, 98 countries participated in #GivingTuesday. Participation from 82 percent of the world’s largest companies, such as AOL and Macy’s, also increased.
  7. Other online funding platforms such as Blackbaud, Network for Good, CrowdRise, Razoo, GoFundMe and IndieGogo added to the advanced momentum. Blackbaud saw a 33 percent increase in nonprofit donations, Network for Good raised $7,654,954, CrowdRise raised over three million dollars from an accumulation of 26,018 donations, Razoo reached 2,556 charities, GoFundMe increased earnings by 46 percent from 2015, and IndieGogo hosted 132 campaigns, gaining 8,400 backers.

The Borgen Project participates yearly in #GivingTuesday and encourages readers to help give back to the world’s poor. Given the consistent growth seen over the past five years, Nov. 28, 2017, projects to be another prosperous year for giving back.

Amy Williams

Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Bihar
Bihar is one of the poorest states in India as approximately 55 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. There is an overwhelming need for quality health care facilities and workers in this region. In the past ten years, the World Bank Group and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have made great strides toward the improvement of healthcare in Bihar.

The World Bank’s collaboration with the Bihar Government led to an increase in the accountability and accessibility of healthcare from 2005 to 2008. By 2008, the number of outpatients visiting a government hospital grew from 39 per month to almost 4,500. The number of babies delivered in healthcare facilities also increased from some 100,000 to 780,000.

Bihar’s infant and maternal mortality rates are higher than India’s national average. According to the Sample Registration Survey in India conducted in 2013, 208 women per 100,000 died during childbirth. Furthermore, 28 out of every 1,000 newborns die within their first month of life.

Most of these deaths are preventable if basic care is provided to women and newborns during and immediately following childbirth. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of healthcare in Bihar falls short in nearly all required categories, including the number of health assistants and nurses.

According to the Huffington Post, there are not enough nurses in Bihar to allow for lengthy off-site training to prepare nurses for treatment of postpartum hemorrhage or premature births while also keeping health facilities adequately staffed.

In order to improve maternal health and newborn care, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the Bihar Government launched a Mobile Nurse Mentoring Program called AMANAT.

Through AMANAT, nurses in public health facilities are mentored on-site by mobile nurse mentors, who ensure that basic standards of care are provided for pregnant women and newborns.

The program has greatly improved healthcare in Bihar for women and children before and after deliveries since its implementation in 2012. A few of these improvements include:

  • The administration of the correct use of oxytocin to induce labor has increased from 9 percent to 59 percent.
  • The use of sterile instruments by nurses during deliveries has increased from 13 percent to 43 percent.
  • The implementation of mothers breastfeeding has increased from 49 percent to 72 percent.

The number of stillbirths declined from 19 to 12 per 1,000 live births due to improvements in basic care practices. AMANAT was implemented in 160 public health facilities across Bihar and is expected to be administered in 240 over the course of this year.

There is a long way to go in creating a stable system of healthcare in Bihar. However, these crucial improvements made by the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bihar’s Government have saved and will continue to save countless maternal and newborn lives.

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: World Bank