Putting an End to Preventable Maternal and Child Deaths through Advocacy

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Amanda Beals, Global Grassroots Expansion Manager at RESULTS

Mothers everywhere want the same thing for their kids; to see them grow up healthy and strong and realize the full potential that every child brings to the world. Medical practitioners get to see the beginnings of these dreams, providing a safe and healthy start to life for both mom and baby.

Sadly, too often, this hope is shattered as women and children miss out on necessary healthcare before, during, and after pregnancy. Every year, 289,000 women die from pregnancy related causes simply because they lack access to basic yet necessary services to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Even more moms will have to say goodbye to their children too early with 17,000 children under five dying every day. Most of these deaths are happening in poor countries and almost all of them are preventable.

It does not have to be this way. And all of us can play a role in creating a world where birth is a time for hope and celebration, regardless of where a child is born.

We know that this world is not only possible, but it is probable and achievable. The latest evidence shows that we can end unnecessary maternal and child deaths by 2035. We have the resources and technology to make sure moms and kids survive pregnancy and their first five years of life. It is not a question of can we create this world. Instead, we find ourselves asking will we make it happen by investing in the health of mothers and children and turning this possibility into reality?

Nurses, doctors, midwives, and health workers literally save lives every day – but they have another important role to play as well: advocates.

At RESULTS, we know that advocacy is one of our most powerful tools for creating a healthy world. As global health advocates, we raise our voices to build power as citizens, call our leaders into action, and leverage billions of dollars to support lifesaving global health programs.

Last year, our advocates called on U.S. leaders to prioritize child survival by advocating for support for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which supports poor countries providing vaccines to all their children, regardless of where they live. RESULTS advocates met with members of Congress nearly 400 times, generated over 200 pieces of media, and built national support for Gavi’s lifesaving mission.

The voices of everyday Americans – together with the expert perspective of pediatricians, nurses, and health workers – helped push the U.S. government to make its most ambitious commitment yet to support Gavi’s work: $1 billion over four years. That investment will help power Gavi’s plan to help vaccinate over 300 million children, saving more than 5 million lives.

Now, we can go even further. USAID, this country’s main development agency, is committed to helping reach the goal of ending preventable deaths, supporting countries to build systems that reach every child and every mother. But despite its success so far, USAID lacks a clear strategy and is not up for the job without first making important reforms. Now that we know what is possible, we need the right approach and the right policies to make it happen.

New bipartisan legislation proposes reforms that will hold USAID accountable for a smarter, more effective approach to ending preventable maternal and child deaths. The legislation forces USAID to turn their ambitious goal into a viable plan, requires a centralized and coherent strategy, and maximizes U.S. investments to better support countries working to build the foundation for healthy, prosperous futures.

With a strategy that puts kids and mothers first, together we have the chance to make sure every child, regardless of where she is born, has a healthy start to life. Powerful advocacy can help drive this work forward. The expert voices of medical practitioners are crucial, calling on Congress to prioritize a healthy world.

Raising their voices and pushing our elected officials to put moms and kids first, health workers can touch the lives of not just their own patients, but of millions of families around the world.

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