Bill to Save Lives of Millions of Mothers and Children Needs Your Support

By Heather Ignatius

October 12, 2017

Pneumonia. Diarrhea. Low birth weight. These are just a few of the causes of child death around the world. Every day we lose 16,000 children. 16,000 lives lost too soon.

In addition, approximately 300,000 women die every year due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth. This is tragic.

But, there is good news – we are making significant progress as a global community. The number of children who die before the age of five has shrunk by almost half since 1990, largely because of governments, organizations, and individuals working together to prioritize child and maternal health. Governments like the United States play an important role in providing funding and working in partnership with countries around the world to drive these gains.

Building on this momentum, the United States now has an opportunity to signal a strong commitment to protect women and young girls by passing the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (Reach Act) in both the Senate and House.

The Reach Act aims to end preventable mother and child deaths by 2035. It focuses on solutions that really work and aims to ensure that every mom can have a safe pregnancy and a healthy child.

Sónia Francisco from Mahubo, Kenya was premature and underweight. Upon her birth, her mother, Florinda Sitõe, was counseled to provide kangaroo mother care (KMC), which involves holding the baby skin-to-skin immediately after birth. KMC was pioneered in 1979 in Colombia in response to a shortage of costly incubators. It is now promoted globally as a best practice and has been shown to reduce infant deaths and benefit both the mother and her child. It is identified in PATH’s Harnessing the Power of Innovation to Save Mothers and Children report among innovations with great lifesaving potential as KMC is an example of the kinds of proven, low-cost interventions central to the Reach Act. PATH has been a partner in training nurses in Kenya on KMC and massage for premature babies since 2015.

The Reach Act received strong support from both sides of the aisle when it was introduced in the Senate earlier this year. Yesterday, it was introduced in the House and is earning similarly strong support. As a mother and a global health advocate, I’m proud to have worked on behalf of PATH and alongside more than 20 nonprofit organizations to support and help shape the priorities of the bill.

Though early support is encouraging, there is no guarantee the bill will pass. But, every mom can help. As mothers and global citizens, we urge you to express your support for this life-saving bill by asking your elected officials to support the Reach Act.

 

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