NEW YORK CITY, New York — During crises, it is typically women and young children globally who are the most vulnerable. Today, around 15,000 children die each day from preventable illnesses, with newborns dying at a rate of 7,000 deaths per day. Along with this, 45% of deaths of children under the age of five are the result of malnutrition. In addition, nearly 300,000 expectant mothers die each year from pregnancy-related complications. Reach Every Mother and Child Act aims to improve these numbers and solve these issues.
The Reach Every Mother and Child Act
Prior to this proposal, Representative David Reichert (R-WA) introduced the act to Congress in 2017. This proposal, however, failed to secure a vote and died in Congress. On April 29th, 2021 Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) re-introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act to the Senate.
The proposal of this bipartisan act aims to bolster the U.S.’s attempts to end avoidable deaths of mothers and children in the developing world by 2030. If passed, it intends to achieve this goal through interventions that prioritize cost-effectivenesses, such as expanding access to pregnancy and birthing resources. For example, some of the resources this bill is seeking to provide are access to clean birthing practices, vaccines and prenatal nutritional supplements.
It is important to also note that in June 2022, Sara Jacobs (D-CA) introduced a companion bill in the House. This companion bill, if passed, would allow the President to provide assistance to implement a five-year strategic plan to continue towards the goal of ending avoidable deaths of mothers and children in the developing world by 2030.
In the past 25 years, U.S. investments have been crucial in helping reduce rates of child mortality globally by more than 50%, according to Collins’s press release. However, the progress for newborns has been slow, making the passage of the Reach Every Mother and Child Act even more vital. If passed, the legislation could put the U.S. on track to ending the preventable deaths of mothers and children and set an example for other high-income nations seeking to join this fight.
How the Sponsors Intend for the Act to Achieve Its Goals
The Reach Every Mother and Child Act intends to do this by directing USAID to create a strategy that will support maternal and child health. The Act has five main initiatives for achieving its goal. First, lawmakers want to implement a strategy that focuses on the highest-impact, evidence-based interventions, according to the press release. The goal of these interventions is to focus on country and community ownership. Second, they want to establish a Maternal and Child Survival Coordinator at USAID. This coordinator will be in charge of implementing the developed strategy and verifying that the most effective interventions are reaching the targeted nations. Third, the drafters of the bill want to improve government productivity. In doing so, they want collaboration with the coordinator, focusing on how to promote the most effective interventions.
Along with this, there is an initiative to specifically promote transparency and foster accountability for those working on the project to ensure goals are being met, according to the press release. Finally, the Act is would require detailed public reporting on the progress toward implementing the strategy. This final initiative will allow the public to stay informed on the progress of the act.
Non-Profit Support for the Reach Every Mother and Child Act
The Reach Every Mother and Child Act has garnered significant support from non-profits, including Save The Children. Save The Children is an organization devoted to serving the needs of children and fighting to secure their rights, working to give children a healthy start in life.
Save the Children has a policy advocacy division called the Save the Children Action Network. This network was created to act as a political voice for children and ensure that their futures are a top priority of legislators. The network not only has voiced support for the bill but also has resources regarding the information on the bill on its website and how to reach out to congressional leaders for support.
– Emma Cook