Bill and Melinda Gates have commited $20 million from their foundation to support the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS). GAPPS announced a new Grand Challenges in Global Health Program that will look into finding the reasons for preterm and stillborn births.
The program, called the Preventing Preterm Birth initiative, will seek to create intervention and prevention methods that will limit infection and improve nutrition in pregnant women to prevent preterm and stillborn births. The goal of the program is to mobilize the scientific community to discover the reasons behind prematurity and to find real-world solutions to the issue.
At the Annual Grand Challenges Meeting and the Keystone Symposia Conference in New Dehli, India where the initiative was announced, Craig Rubens, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder and executive director of GAPPS, spoke about the importance of the Preventing Preterm Birth initiative.
He said, “The objective of the Preventing Preterm Birth initiative is to inspire new scientific research and discover causes of preterm birth that we have never known. By uniting the scientific community to combat and prevent prematurity, we have the ability to make an enormous impact on global infant mortality rates.”
Gary Darmstadt, Director of Family Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “We urgently need new, groundbreaking ideas that ensure mothers receive the necessary health interventions to help their children have a healthy start to life.
The commitment of $20 million to the program from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help GAPPS in its quest to solicit new ideas from the scientific community. The funds will be used for grants which members of the scientific community can appy for to be a sub-grantee. The rules and regulations for applying for sub-grantee status can be found at GAPPS.org.
Some facts on premature birth:
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “More than a half million babies in the United States—that’s 1 in every 8—are born premature each year. Some babies are so small they could fit in the palm of your hand.”
Premature babies that survive may face lifelong problems such as intellectual disabilities, respiratory issues, vision and hearing loss, cerebral palsy, feeding and/or digestive problems.
The leading cause of death in newborn babies is prematurity.