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Stand Up for Moms and Babies Around the World

Posted: 05/07/2012 11:02 am

The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood section joins Mothers Day Every Day, an initiative of the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE, in a countdown to Mother's Day. Pulling together diverse voices, Mothers Day Every Day is raising awareness and calling for greater U.S. leadership to saves the lives of moms and babies globally.

Mother's Day should be a joyous occasion. The devoted, loving women in our lives deserve a special day of thanks for all they have done and continue to do. On this Mother's Day though, we're asking you to take a moment to think about mothers you don't know, mothers who need your help. Mothers like Concy Acayo.

Concy shares a rickety one-bedroom home with her husband and four children in a poor neighborhood in Kampala, Uganda. Her four children have been healthy because CARE, the Centers for Disease Control and their Ugandan partners were able to offer Concy and many of her neighbors professional prenatal care and delivery assistance.

Not all mothers and children are as fortunate as Concy. In Uganda, about 1 in 200 mothers will die during pregnancy or childbirth, compared to 1 in 4,000 mothers in the United States. These statistics are avoidable. Which is why the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE came together to create Mothers Day Every Day, a U.S. advocacy initiative that brings together a bipartisan group of former administration officials, members of Congress, and advocates committed to improving the survival and health of mothers and newborns.

Low-cost interventions, such as making sure that there is a skilled health care worker present for all pregnant women in labor (34 percent of worldwide births take place with no skilled attendant) can make a difference. Millions of people in the developing world are alive today because a midwife was by their side when they gave birth, or they were vaccinated as infants by a nurse, or because their families learned about the health benefits that come from breastfeeding, hand washing and sleeping under a mosquito net.

Funding for global health, and more specifically maternal, newborn and child health, is among the most cost-effective, life-saving and security-enhancing investments the U.S. can make today. These investments emphasize measured outcomes and accountability, save lives, empower economies, and continue to bring stability to many areas of the world.

We both had an opportunity to attend the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly recently, where we convened with nearly 650 Members of Parliament from over 120 countries. It's becoming increasingly clear that when governments invest in health workers -- trained professionals with midwifery skills -- and make sure that they are employed and well-supported within a functioning health care system, it is possible to save the lives of millions of women and their newborns around the world. WRA's advocacy in Uganda led to a 60 percent increase in the number of midwives in select districts available to provide life-saving services to women.

We are inspired and proud to be a part of this community that is transforming villages and nations by saving the lives of moms and babies worldwide. As we look ahead to celebrate Mother's Day with our families next Sunday, we also look forward to making Mother's Day every day.

Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA, and Theresa Shaver, president and executive director of the White Ribbon Alliance, are co-founders of the Mothers Day Every Day U.S. advocacy campaign.

 
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