Newswise — William H. Gates Sr. and Susan Packard Orr will deliver keynote addresses tomorrow at the 15th anniversary celebration of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Mr. Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ms. Packard Orr, chair of the board of trustees of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, will discuss the global revitalization of family planning and reproductive health programs worldwide.

Their speeches will open a one-day celebration in honor of the Gates Institute’s 15th anniversary that will include a symposium and roundtable discussions with leading experts in reproductive health, rights and family planning advocacy. Founded 15 years ago with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute facilitates cutting-edge research in family planning, reproductive health and population dynamics.

“We are delighted that these two luminaries in the field of philanthropy are visiting Hopkins to share their thoughts on the important global topic of family planning and reproductive health. These interventions can significantly cut the number of mothers and infants dying from preventable deaths at very low costs,” said Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Gates Institute has worked in 16 countries worldwide, training emerging researchers in rigorous research methodology to drive evidence-based programs, practices and policies. Through capacity-building of partner universities and organization in developing countries, the Gates Institute prepares and strengthens the skills of professionals and new leaders in the field. It has supported the development of approximately 700 promising young scholars and mid-career leaders from developing countries and the United States.

Looking ahead, the Gates Institute will continue to conduct and facilitate scholarship for social change via partnerships, research and innovation. PMA2020 (Performance, Monitoring and Accountability), for example, revolutionizes the process of rapid data collection, aggregation and dissemination on family planning and other health indicators at the household and facility level using female resident enumerators and innovative mobile technology. Currently implemented in 4 countries, the program will expand to a total of at least 10 others in Africa and Asia.

The Advance Family Planning (AFP) initiative has collaborated with partners to achieve over 60 policy advances in developing countries, including increasing national and district government family-planning funding, and expanding and enhancing community-based distribution of the full range of contraceptive methods. With the Millennium Development Goals ending in 2015, the Gates Institute is in a strong position to propel the global agenda striving for equitable access to life-saving family planning services for all women.

“The Institute works as an innovator, advocate, and convener to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice, and to promote universal access to reproductive health, a key element in the achievement of the world’s Millennium Development Goals. It often works with such strategic partners as the Packard and Hewlett Foundations, USAID and the United Nations Population Fund.” explains Jose G. Rimon II, Senior Scientist and Interim Director of the Gates Institute.

More than 200 professionals and delegates from around the world are expected to attend tomorrow’s celebration, which includes a symposium, roundtable discussions and expert panels convened as part of the 15th anniversary of the Gates Institute and its international partners on Wednesday May 21, 2014, 9:30 A.M. – 3:45 P.M.

The event is open to media and the public.