Originally published in The Tennessean
Big names will bring a global conversation about women and children’s health to Nashville on Monday.
Bill Frist, a physician and former U.S. senator, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will host a “community conversation” at Belmont University about maternal and child health in developing countries. Former U.S. figure skater Scott Hamilton will moderate the event, according to a release from Frist’s charity Hope Through Healing Hands.
The organization partnered with the Gates Foundation in February to found the Faith-based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide. The initiative encourages American faith leaders to promote “healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies” in developing countries, the release said.
It also aims to increase access to contraceptives and decrease abortion rates. Statistics from the United Nations Population Fund say at least 200 million womenworldwide lack access to safe family planning methods. The Gates Foundation says a quarter of the 80 million women who had unintended pregnancies in 2012 underwent unsafe abortions.
Three local churches — Brentwood Baptist Church, Christ Church Nashville and the People’s Church in Franklin — have endorsed the coalition, as have notable Nashvillians Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.
Hope Through Healing Hands will also fund a Frist Global Health Leader award for a Belmont graduate student. The program sends students and doctors to work in countries that lack medical workers and other resources.
Reach Noah Manskar at 615-259-8228 and on Twitter @noahmanskar.