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Gates Foundation grants aim to improve health in developing countries

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced 65 "Grand Challenges Explorations" grants for ideas to improve health in developing countries. Among the grant recipients is Stanford's Paul Blumenthal, MD, MPH, who is creating a cell phone application that sends women reminders about the status of their menstrual cycle and that could, in turn, help prevent unintended pregnancy.

Many of the funded projects focus on mothers and newborns, and one that jumped out at me involves an easy-to-use, low-cost, portable maternal ultrasound. A group of University of Washington researchers and students developed the device after learning that current ultrasound machines are often too complex for rural midwives in developing countries to use; the grant will enable the team to test the device in Uganda and see if its use can help lower childbirth-related mortality there.

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