Helping Mothers Worldwide Keep Their Promises

By Kelly Healy

September 6, 2016

When my son was born, I made a promise to him in those first moments to do everything I could to keep him safe and to help him grow up healthy and happy. Today he is two, and I have been able to keep that promise for the most part, save a few bumps and bruises and an occasional illness. I have been fortunate to have the resources I needed to keep that promise: Good doctors and nurses when he gets sick. Google at my fingertips for information. A lactation consultant when breastfeeding was a challenge. Healthy food. A choice of good schools.

For far too many mothers around the world, keeping that promise is much more challenging. Some will not survive childbirth because they do not receive the care they need. Even those that do may struggle to give their child a healthy start. Food may be scarce or not nutritious. The nearest clinic may be half-a-day’s walk away, and poorly staffed. School fees may be too expensive.

Even though we have similar hopes and dreams for our children, many mothers cannot overcome the hurdles they face when trying to keep their children healthy, ensure they receive an education, and give them a chance to chase their dreams.


Photograph courtesy Kelly Healy

A Reason to Hope

The good news is, the last two decades have shown us that these problems are solvable. As world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly in a few weeks, they will be reflecting on the remarkable progress we have made in the past two decades. Today, more children are surviving and thriving. Child deaths have been cut by more than half. At the same time, deaths of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth have been cut by nearly as much. And yet we still lose nearly 6 million children and more than 300,000 mothers each year. Many challenges remain to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a target to end preventable deaths of moms and children.

Telling the Story

That is why PATH and our partners recently created “To Keep a Promise,” a video and campaign to highlight the need for urgent action to save mothers and children everywhere. We partnered with the Visual Epidemiology Project at Yale University, Save the Children Action Network, World Vision, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a short video that takes you on a journey of one woman — who is the compilation of many women, from all over the world — starting with her birth and a promise her mother makes, all the way through her own pregnancy and the same promise she will make to her child.


This emotional video is a call to action for advocates and policymakers in the United States to ensure that our country continues to invest in programs to save mothers and children — programs that enjoy bipartisan support.

Take Action Challenge

Together, we can give even the most vulnerable women and children the power to protect their own health and unlock their potential. Watch the video and visit to contact your member of Congress and ask them to support moms and kids around the world.

Lead photograph credit Jonathan Smith

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