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Health

This Clever Video Shows How the Pill Can Break the Cycle of Poverty

One little pill has the power to affect generations of people in the world’s poorest countries, Melinda Gates says in a new video on the importance of contraception.

The wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda narrates a video explaining how access to contraception is one of the most important things a country can provide for its citizens.

“It’s amazing what a contraceptive can do. When a woman has the power to decide when to get pregnant, she has power over her future,” she says.

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The video explains how a woman who can choose when to get pregnant can better space out her pregnancies to allow her body to recover, improving the health of her babies. She can also invest more in each child to be able to pay for school, food, and doctor’s visits.

And when a child is healthy and well-fed, that child can go onto to improve his own health and success in the future and raise another generation of healthy, successful citizens.

“Children who are well nourished and healthy do much better in school and children who do better in school go onto earn a better living. As a result they have more to invest in their children and their community,” she says.

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The video was launched a day after the Gates published an open letter to Warren Buffett, who invests in the foundation. The annual letter informs Buffett on the foundation’s progress in improving global health outcomes for the world’s poorest people.

The letter noted that more than 300 million women in developing countries now use modern methods of contraception, including birth control pills, shots, and implants — more than at any other time in history.

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They also included some numbers to show that birth control has demonstrably good consequences for kids:

“When women in developing countries space their births by at least three years, their babies are almost twice as likely to reach their first birthday. Over time, the ability of women to use contraceptives and space their pregnancies will become one of the largest contributors in cutting childhood deaths,” the letter says.

The letter even calls contraceptives “one of the greatest lifesaving innovations in history” and one of the greatest “antipoverty innovations” in history.

But while more women are using contraceptives than ever before, there are still nearly a quarter of a billion women on the planet who don’t have access to birth control but want it, the letter said. The foundation is trying to provide 120 million more women with access by 2020 as part of the Family Planning 2020 campaign.

“It seems like a simple thing, a pill or a shot or an implant or a condom,” Melinda says in the video, “But it triggers a virtuous cycle that makes everybody’s life better, and that’s because empowered women transform societies.”