Joynab, who lives in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, lost two of her six children shortly after giving birth, partly due to the babies' severe breathing problems. The presence of a skilled health worker with simple tools likely would have made a huge difference for these children.
She did not have access to medical care during any of her pregnancies -- even the routine immunizations and nutritional supplements many mothers receive.
Joynab's surviving children are all malnourished, and she is particularly worried about her 8-month-old son, Ashim, who weighs less than 9 pounds. He is "getting lean and thin day by day," Joynab says. "I can't give him enough breast milk."
All kids deserve a strong start in life, no matter where they are born.
Globally, 6.3 million children under age 5 -- nearly half of whom are infants -- die from preventable causes each year. That is 17,000 every day. In addition, 800 women die every day due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The vast majority of these deaths occur in the developing world.
We know how to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths. The United States has been a global leader in saving the lives of mothers and babies, working in partnership with developing countries to increase access to lifesaving, cost-effective and evidence-based interventions.
This afternoon, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, which would help to scale up the solutions we know work to save the lives of women and children.
These solutions include focusing on the poorest and most vulnerable populations, while recognizing the unique needs within different countries and communities, improving coordination among the U.S. government agencies and relevant foreign governments, international organizations and civil society, and complementing strong U.S. bilateral investments with innovative, public-private financing mechanisms.
This transformative, bipartisan legislation would truly change the world. And you can help.
You can be an advocate for mothers and children all over the world by urging your senator to cosponsor this bill.
Since 1990, deaths of mothers and children under age 5 worldwide have been cut nearly in half. Mortality rates are declining faster than ever before. This is one of the great success stories in international development of the last 25 years. Progress has largely been achieved with simple solutions and proven, inexpensive interventions to address leading causes of death, including diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition and complications during pregnancy and birth.
There is no more important investment in the future health and stability of our world than saving the lives of women and children. Together, we can end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths around the world within a generation and ensure that Joynab's children's children get the strong start in life that they deserve.