- Bill and Melinda Gates are getting ready to unveil their annual letter for 2019.
- Melinda Gates told Business Insider that one of the topics highlighted would be the disturbing trend of childbirth health issues.
- Each year, more than 700 women in the US die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. The rate per 100,000 births is steadily going up, and it’s the worst of any developed country.
The US has the worst death rate for women during pregnancy or childbirth of any developed country.
More than 700 women in the US die each year from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes, according to National Geographic. Black women have three times as high a mortality rate as white women during pregnancy or childbirth. And a lot of the deaths are related to preterm births.
The maternal mortality rate is only getting worse in the US, an NPR and ProPublica investigation found, while it’s improving most everywhere else.
This alarming issue is increasingly weighing on Melinda Gates, a cofounder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gates spends a lot of time advocating for gender equality and women’s issues, from maternal health to workplace experiences. Her foundation has given $280 million to the Global Financing Facility, which helps identify and solve women’s and children’s health problems.
In an interview with Business Insider, Gates acknowledged that the US childbirth mortality rate is “incredibly disturbing.” She said she planned to weigh in on childbirth health issues in her and her husband’s forthcoming annual letter for 2019.
Here’s the relevant portion of Business Insider’s interview with Gates:
Alyson Shontell: The US has the highest death rate for women during childbirth of any developed country, I believe. More than 700 women die a year here, and black women have three times as high a mortality rate as white women. Are you thinking about maternal health in the US?
Melinda Gates: Those statistics are incredibly disturbing, so we are definitely looking at that.
Bill and I are actually writing about that a little bit in our annual letter this year. A lot of those births have to do with preterm birth, which is happening more with African-American women. We need to unpack why that is happening. Is it barriers in their communities? Is it something genetic? Is it both? Is it stress?
We need to focus on that in the United States. So yes, we are looking at that.
For more on Gates’ global health initiatives, how her organization is fighting to keep millions of children alive past age 5, and how we’re close to eliminating deadly diseases like malaria and AIDS, check out our full interview with Melinda Gates.