File image: Co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates. IOL.

UNITED NATIONS - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a R2.6 billion pledge to the Global Financing Facility (GFF) Trust Fund, to upscale life-saving services. 

This pledge, the first of investors expected contribution, is in support of GFF Every Woman Every Child replenishment. 

The World Bank Group and the United Nations launched the GFF at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July 2015 in support of Every Woman Every Child. 

GFF is aimed at financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a set of goals intended to transform the world by the year 2030. 

The GFF in support of Every Woman Every Child has launched yesterday on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly with the goal of raising R26.7 billion. This amount is aimed at expanding the GFF to a total of 50 countries during the next five years. 

This funding has the ability to assemble resources close to the estimated funding gap of R441 billion. The lives of nearly 38 million women, children and adolescents can be saved by the year 2030. 

“Women, children and adolescents are the linchpin of development. Their health and well-being are critical to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General during the meeting of the High-level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child in the margins of the UN General Assembly.

“Whether they are in developed countries or refugee camps, women and young people have hopes, dreams and ambitions that transcend borders and rise above conflict. We have a duty and an opportunity to help them achieve their full potential.”

At the GFF replenishment launch, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a R2.6 billion pledge to the GFF Trust Fund. 
 
“The world has made historic progress against global poverty and disease, but that progress is in jeopardy,” said Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

“Investing in women and children’s health is critical to lifting the world’s poorest out of poverty, and the Global Financing Facility offers an innovative blueprint to make financing health more effective". 

This comes after women and child deaths from preventable causes are still pervasive are occurring on a large scale. 

However, this funding will help countries to access quality services and progress maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition.

Notably, each dollar that is invested in the GFF Trust Fund is catalytic. 

This means that it is linked to several other sources of funding such as domestic government resources, financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), aligned external financing, and private sector resources.
 
“The changing global landscape demands that we change the way we work—and that starts with how we finance investments in people today, and in the future", said World Bank Group President ,Jim Yong Kim.  

“The smart, scaled, and sustainable financing that the Global Financing Facility brings to countries will help us make a real breakthrough on universal health coverage, ensuring that all women, children and adolescents can live healthy and productive lives". 

Currently, 11 projects supported by R41 billion in GFF Trust Fund grants linked to R24 billion in IDA/IBRD financing have been approved by the World Bank Group.
 
The GFF has drawn on sectors that influence health and nutrition outcomes such as education, water and sanitation, and social protection.
 
“In Liberia, the Global Financing Facility is playing an important role in improving the health of women, children and adolescents,” said Bernice Dahn, Minister of Health of Liberia. 

“This will lead to healthier lives for our people while building a resilient health system, contributing to our efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. We hope that other countries can benefit from the GFF like we have". 
 
Notably, the 50 countries the GFF would expand to in the next five years account for 96% of the R440 billion annual financing gap and 5.2 million maternal and child death each year.
 
“With more resources the GFF can reach many more women, children and young people at the most critical periods of their lives: birth, the early years and adolescence,” said Mariam Claeson, Director of the GFF. 

“Investing now will pay dividends in lives saved and improved and in surging economic growth". 

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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE