The time to choose between political parties is fast approaching. Perhaps it seems there is little to agree upon, but luckily Republicans and Democrats both support something we can all stand behind — maternal and child health.
In 2015, 5.9 million children worldwide died before reaching the age of 5. Additionally, in areas of West Africa, specifically in Sierra Leon, one in 17 women die during pregnancy or childbirth complications. With better healthcare access, these deaths would be preventable.
As a nation with the resources to stop these deaths, we have the responsibility to use our resources wisely.
Since 1990 the U.S. government has established a series of innovative measures designed to accelerate reductions in maternal and child mortality rates. Since 2008, the U.S. government has invested $15 billion in such programs. Still, it is important for us to ensure this money is spent in the most efficient manner possible.
Last year, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Representatives Dave Reichert, R-Wash., Betty McCollum, D-Minn., Barbara Lee, D-Cal., and Michael McCaul, R-Tex., introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act.
The act aims to strategize existing U.S. investments to maximize maternal and child health abroad. Its goal is to end preventable maternal and child deaths by focusing our efforts in the poorest and most vulnerable populations of the world, increasing evidence-based interventions and appointing a coordinator to oversee functions and funding. These reforms will help to reach the goal of zero preventable maternal and child deaths by 2035.
Representative Mark Pocan, D-Wis., is a cosponsor for this bill, but Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., are not. Please write to Pocan to show your support, or to Baldwin and Johnson to let them know Wisconsinites want this act to be passed.
Regardless of which parties we represent, we must rally together to improve maternal and child health.
Jennifer Bird ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in biochemistry. She is a member of Partners in Health – Engage.