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Gates throws down gauntlet ahead of Harper's child, maternal health summit

Melinda Gates speaks in Geneva, on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Keystone,Martial Trezzini

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Melinda Gates speaks in Geneva, on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Keystone,Martial Trezzini

OTTAWA - The noted philanthropist Melinda Gates says an unacceptable number of newborn babies are dying in poor countries because the developed world simply isn't investing enough money to save them.

Gates is issuing an international call for more funding as she helps launch new research in the medical journal The Lancet on the plight of new mothers, babies and young children in developing countries.

The frank talk from Gates means more spending pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he hosts a major international meeting next week on his signature aid initiative — maternal, newborn and child health.

Harper committed $2.8 billion to the cause at the G8 summit Canada hosted in 2010, and is chairing a three-day international meeting in Toronto as a follow-up to raise awareness.

The Lancet study says 2.9 newborn babies die each year, while another 2.6 million are stillborn.

That's half the 1990 rate, but still too high, according to the 55 experts from 18 countries that contributed to the report.

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