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Global reproductive health program gets $20.5 million from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Posted: 1:00 PM, Sep 11, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-11 17:03:18Z

A global program addressing the reproductive health of people living in poor urban communities got a generous infusion of funds from one of America's most famous billionaire turned philanthropists, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.

The Challenge Initiative received a $20.5 million supplemental grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding helps the program focus more on the sexual and reproductive health issues of adolescents and youth. 

Evidence-based urban reproductive health interventions are already actively implemented in 52 cities across East Africa, Francophone West Africa, Nigeria, and India, the Bloomberg School of Public Health said. The additional funds address the needs of 15 to 24 year olds in these environments, utilizing best practice programming in addition to what is offered to men and women in those communities. 

The new grant raise the Challenge Initiative's funding to $59.5 million over five years. It has also sparked additional investment from other donors, including $8 million from a private philanthropist and London-based Comic Relief, $6 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and nearly $30 million in cash contributions from local governments and cities. 

The Challenge Initiative allows cities to take the lead in their health programming, allocating their own funds and providing access to evidence-based tools and best practices that can scale based on the populations they need to serve. Local health officials can also take advantage of the programs "university without walls," to learn more about proven approaches and gain from others' experiences, the Bloomberg School said. The "business unusual" programming provides financing, scaling, and sustainability for high-impact family planning solutions to urban poor. 

“Globally, many adolescents don’t have access to the sexual and reproductive health information they need to make informed choices, and this can keep communities trapped in a cycle of poverty,” says Jose “Oying” Rimon, MA, the Initiative’s Director and Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health Senior Scientist at the Bloomberg School. “We are so grateful that the Gates Foundation has made it possible for The Challenge Initiative to use our ‘business unusual’ approach to really make a difference in the lives of youth.”