“Working together with developed and developing country partners, we reduced the total number of under-5 deaths worldwide by more than one-third in less than two decades.”
When children in developing countries die, we all mourn this loss of life, especially when we know that most of these deaths could have been easily prevented. We are no longer Democrats or Republicans – we are members of the human family who recognize that it is simply wrong for some of our children to have access to basic services that ensure they survive, while others do not.
The United States has a long and proud history of leadership in the fight to save children’s lives. American researchers pioneered simple solutions that have led to a remarkable decline in child mortality in recent decades (for example: oral rehydration solution to treat diarrhea, vitamin A supplements to fight malnutrition and disease, and lifesaving vaccines). Much of this success was accomplished with generous funding from the United States government.
Working together with developed and developing country partners, we reduced the total number of under-5 deaths worldwide by more than one-third – from 12.4 million per year to 8.1 million – in less than two decades. Yet tragically, 22,000 children still perish each day, mostly from preventable or treatable causes.
In the 1980s and 1990s, it was unthinkable that the United States would not be a leader in this realm. Polls have consistently shown that over 90 percent of Americans believe saving children should be a national priority. Congress and Administrations since the early 1980s have responded to the people’s will and appropriated funds that enabled USAID and groups like Save the Children to deliver lifesaving services to millions of children in the poorest countries in the world.
Save the Children’s 2011 State of the World’s Mothers report assembles a distinguished group of “champions for children” to explore the many reasons why we, as a nation, must continue to invest in these lifesaving programs.
Some of the messages may surprise you. For example, the President of Malawi shows that even a very poor country facing daunting health challenges can become a child survival success story by making strategic choices and working effectively with committed international partners. And Professor Peter Singer refutes the common myth that saving children is somehow at odds with protecting the environment.
Some of the solutions that could save the most lives may surprise you too. For example, did you know that a cadre of community-based health workers, given just six weeks of training and a few basic tools, can reduce child mortality by 24 percent or more? Professors Robert Black and Henry Perry from Johns Hopkins University discuss these findings in an essay revealing the great potential of community health workers to save more young lives.
There is no reason why child survival programs should not continue to receive bipartisan support. Former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy notes the many ways these programs help build a favorable climate for American businesses. And Col. John Agoglia reminds us that promoting the health of women and children in fragile and emerging nations is still one of the best ways for our nation to make friends and influence people around the world – which is key to America’s long-term national security.
Generous American hearts go out to those who were not born into our good fortune. Actor Jennifer Garner tells how her own mother’s example inspired her awareness of the critical needs of children around the world. And Rick and Kay Warren of the Saddleback Church describe how partnerships between the U.S. government and the faith-based community have improved the health of mothers and children in countless communities.
Save the Children’s annual Mothers’ Index is a powerful reminder of the many places on earth where mothers and children still need our help. Millions more lives could be saved by expanding our support for basic, low-cost health services and the frontline health workers who deliver lifesaving care. As Congress and the Administration face tough choices about future funding for international programs, let’s work together to give the gift too many mothers still want most – the basic health care that will save their child’s life.
To read the full report click here.
William H. Frist, MD, (left) is a former U.S. Senate Majority Leader.
Jon Corzine (right) is a former U.S. Senator and Governor of New Jersey.
Theyco-chair Save the Children’s Newborn and Child Survival Campaign.