Every 11 seconds, a newborn baby or mother dies, primarily due to preventable causes — but a piece of US legislation aims to improve that stat.
The Reach Every Mother and Child Act is a bipartisan piece of legislation that was reintroduced in the Senate in 2019.
If passed, the act would lead to the implementation of a plan that would help end preventable newborn, child, and maternal deaths globally through investments in low-cost, high-impact, and effective strategies.
Approximately 295,000 women died in 2017 from complications of pregnancy or childbirth globally. Most of these deaths were preventable — conditions like high-blood pressure, bleeding, and infections can be prevented with access to adequate health care.
About 94% of maternal deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where access to quality health services can be scarce.
These deaths have a lasting impact on future generations as mothers contribute to their communities in an important way.
Meanwhile, more than 5 million children under 5 died in 2018 globally and almost half of these deaths occurred within the first month of life, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The primary causes of these deaths are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, congenital anomalies, diarrhea, and malaria, and nearly half of these deaths are preventable or treatable.
Children in sub-Saharan Africa are 15 times more likely to die before reaching their fifth birthday, according to the WHO.
The Reach Every Mother and Child Act would invest in improved delivery of routine immunizations, access to safe water and sanitation, and better access to family planning resources. If passed, it could help save the lives of 600,000 women and 15 million children by 2020, according to the bill, effectively ending preventable maternal and child deaths by 2035.
The bill has bipartisan support — meaning that both Democratic and Republican representatives support its implementation.
“This is an issue that goes beyond political parties. It goes beyond partisanship. It’s what we should be doing as Americans. It’s something that’s just the right thing to do,” Sen. Dan Sullivan told Save the Children.
Foreign aid funding and support from countries like the US are essential in improving global maternal and infant health through access to health services and clean water.
Last month, US Senators Susan Collins, Todd Young, and Chris Coons sent Global Citizens a video message after receiving letters and calls from action takers calling for a maintained commitment to US international assistance, including support for things like the Reach Every Mother and Child Act.
The message was played the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.
“We know that compassionate, targeted foreign assistance can contribute to improved standards of living and security for millions of people around the world,” Collins said in the video. “It is an ambitious goal but it is achievable. These low-costs and effective interventions have already helped to save the lives of 50 million children and our bipartisan effort will help save even more.”
The bill was initially introduced by Senators Susan Collins and Chris Coons, and has since been co-sponsored by many others.