Every day, approximately 800 women around the world die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, more than 17,000 children under five years old will die each day of treatable conditions such as prematurity, pneumonia, and diarrhea—with malnutrition being the underlying cause in nearly half of those deaths.
Due in part to American leadership, the annual number of deaths of children under the age of five has been cut in half since 1990. Nevertheless, far too many mothers, newborns, and young children under the age of five still succumb to disease and malnutrition, especially given the fact that many life-saving maternal and child health programs are well-known and cost-effective. These life-saving interventions include clean birthing practices, vaccines, nutritional supplements, hand-washing with soap, and other basic needs that remain elusive for far too many women and children in developing countries.
This week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) announced the establishment of a Task Force on Women’s and Family Health, to which I am honored to have been named. The purpose of the CSIS Task Force is to identify pragmatic solutions – on a bipartisan basis – so that America can continue to make an effective and sustained impact on the health of women and families in the countries that most need our help.
The Task Force is made up of a diverse group of notable leaders, all with extensive expertise and a commitment to examining the facts, making tough choices, and working across differing political views to achieve a unified vision for the future. Over the course of the next year, the Task Force will examine current U.S. investments in global programs that address a broad spectrum of issues affecting the health of women and families to determine what has been done, what has worked, and what opportunities remain to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of existing programs. The Task Force will chart a concrete road map for the next Administration and Congress to guide U.S. global policy on women’s and family health. Information about the work being done by our Task Force can be found at: http://vision2017.csis.org/.
My appointment to this Task Force follows other initiatives I have pursued to improve the lives of women and families around the world. This summer, I introduced the bipartisan Reach Every Mother and Child Act with Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). Our legislation would strengthen U.S. government efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns, and young children in the developing world. Our bill would help accelerate the deployment of simple, proven, and cost-effective interventions the mothers and children who need them most to survive.
The United States has joined with the international community in setting a goal to end preventable maternal and child deaths by the year 2035. I look forward to the opportunity to participate in this bipartisan Task Force to help ensure that the U.S. will meet its commitment to end preventable deaths of mothers and children worldwide.