That was the consistent message conveyed on the Day of the African Child on June 16 at a briefing and reception on Capitol Hill. The Council partnered with USAID, Save the Children, several members of Congress and other NGOs to discuss progress and setbacks in maternal and child health (MCH) and to call on G-8 leaders to make MCH in Africa a top priority at their summit meeting in Italy next month.
See Save the Children news release on these events: http://www.savethechildren.org/newsroom/2009/g8-africa.html
Save the Children CEO Charles MacCormack kicked off the events by recognizing the progress of MCH, and then turned quickly to the cold, hard facts that: “In Africa today, some 12,500 children will die of treatable diseases. Some 25,000 parents, and this is key, African parents, will mourn their children’s death this evening.”
Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who was present at the both events, had written in an op-ed published in the Washington Times that day:
“If 12,500 children were to die each day of preventable and readily treatable causes here at home, we would treat it as a national emergency. African children — who perish at that distressing pace — deserve a similarly determined and urgent response from their governments and the international community.”
Ambassadors from Mali, Malawi and the African Union and World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Liya Kebede brought people up to speed on the situation with MCH in their countries. Kebede, who used to be a fashion model, had all eyes on her when she conveyed the importance of taking care of women: Women are less likely to become pregnant if they are in school. Children are more likely to survive if they are raised by their mothers. “Simply put, mothers die because we have neglected them. Women should be able to give life without suffering a death sentence,” Kebede said.
The expression of these issues has resulted in the birth of the Newborn, Child, and Mother Survival Act of 2009 (H.R. 1410), which requires the U.S. Government to develop and implement comprehensive strategies, establish guidelines, invest and fund international and maternal health programs with an intentional focus on 60 countries which maintain the highest newborn, child, and maternal mortality rates. For more information on H.R. 1410 or to support it, contact the two offices leading this effort:
Lina Choudhry, Office of Rep. Betty McCollum
Marhall Reffett, Office of Rep. Dave Reichert
Posted by Sarah Michel