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Dr. Rajiv Shah Headshot

Healthy Mothers Nurture Hope

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The Huffington Post's Living section joins Mothers Day Every Day, a joint campaign of the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE, in a daily countdown to Mothers Day with special voices working to help save the lives of mothers and newborns around the world. Mothers Day Every Day is advocating for more progress and investments toward safe pregnancy and healthy babies because when women survive childbirth, they give birth to healthier families, communities and nations.

On Mother's Day around the world we celebrate women for giving and protecting life, nurturing hope, and supporting their communities large and small. We honor ordinary women who make extraordinary contributions as caregivers and caretakers, as breadwinners and bread-makers. In the United States and many other countries, Mother's Day this year falls on Sunday, May 9.

In observing this day, we also should also give some thought to the all-too-many women worldwide for whom bringing children into the world can be dangerous, or even deadly. More than half a million women lose their lives in childbirth, and many more suffer complications each year. The one-in-16 chance over a lifetime that a woman in sub-Saharan Africa has of dying as a result of pregnancy is more than 150 times greater than the one-in-2,500 risk of a woman in the United States.

Last year President Obama announced the Global Health Initiative (GHI), a $63-billion investment in saving lives around the world over six years. GHI is a partnership with approximately 80 countries to strengthen health outcomes. As part of GHI, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and our partners work tirelessly each day to improve the health and well-being of millions of women, children and newborns worldwide.

Immunization, polio eradication, nutrition, diarrhea and pneumonia care, and maternal and neonatal health are fundamental components of USAID's maternal and child health program, which has been producing remarkable results for decades. But with so many women in danger merely because they are mothers-to-be, it's clear there is a lot more to be done. USAID has contributed to significant reductions in maternal mortality and, with continued support for family planning and maternity services, more than a million women could be saved in the years ahead.

As we appreciate mothers and caregivers on Mother's Day, please also recognize the women in developing countries striving to lead healthy lives and making critical contributions to economic, social, and political advancement as a result of the generous support from the American people and our partners around the globe.

I invite you to learn more about these women and their courageous stories by visiting the USAID website and sending a Mother's Day ecard to the special women in your life.

Check out the rest of our Countdown to Mothers Day series:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-von-furstenberg/mothers-day-a-tribute-to_b_561583.html
www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-matalin/mothers-day-sisterhood-of_b_557317.html
www.huffingtonpost.com/amb-mark-dybul/mothers-day-mothers-have_b_557219.html
www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-veneman/mothers-day-invest-smart_b_556915.html