The Tennessean

By Adam Tamburin
| [email protected]

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is teaming with a local nonprofit founded by former Sen. Bill Frist to promote women’s health in developing countries.

Frist announced the partnership Monday. The Gates Foundation will focus on a new initiative spearheaded by Frist’s Hope Through Healing Hands organization.

That initiative, dubbed the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide, will aim to encourage faith leaders to discuss health issues facing mothers, newborns and children, according to a media statement.

In particular, the coalition plans to emphasize the importance of spacing and planning births using contraception or natural family planning methods. Hope Through Healing Hands and the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide will meet with evangelical and conservative leaders throughout the U.S. with an appeal to support these efforts, the statement said.

“Maternal and child health issues are at the core of global health and saving lives,” Frist said in the statement. “We know that family planning, including access to contraception, plays a critical role in combating maternal mortality and enhancing newborn and child survival rates.”

Dr. Jenny Eaton Dyer, the CEO and executive director of HTHH, says the coalition’s success could save lives.

“We are committed to leveraging our own networks in the United States to support maternal, newborn and child health by promoting awareness and education on the life-saving benefits of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies for mothers and children worldwide,” Dyer said.