The holidays were a time for reflection. For me, I had the chance to opportunity to meet a doctor from Uganda who visited Louisiana last year. She shared with me her experiences as a mother who could have died during child birth simply because she didn’t have access to basic health care. She told me stories of children who are alive today because their country is prioritizing educating mothers about simple ways to prevent deadly diseases. Afterwards, she helped me realize that we all can play a role in promoting survival here and across the world.
About 5.9 million children around the world die each year of preventable diseases such as the flu and pneumonia before they reach their fifth birthday. One million of these kids die on their first day of life, while 2 million die in their first week. As for mothers, more than 700 pass away each day from preventable pregnancy-related causes.
With problems as great as these, many of us wonder, what can we Louisianans do to make a difference? As much as we would like to help, we cannot physically go to all of these poor and often remote places to administer help in the same way we help our neighbors. For this reason, The Reach Every Mother and Child Act S. 1911 and H.R. 3706 were introduced in the Senate and House, respectively. Both aim to end preventable maternal and child deaths by 2035.
The Reach Act is not about spending more money; instead, it’s the reallocation of our dollars among existing funds to maximize their impact in fighting maternal and child illnesses. Both bills propose a coordinated U.S. government strategy with clear, measurable goals and increasing accountability and transparency at all levels. They also focus on the poorest and most vulnerable countries and scale up the most effective, evidence-based solutions. These strategic plans to do the right thing for those most in need through a smarter, more effective use of resources is something that Louisianans from all political beliefs can get behind.
Protecting children is a nonpartisan issue and Congress should move these bills forward as soon as possible. The Reach Act is a great way to ensure that our generosity has a lasting impact well beyond this season of giving and Reps. Charles Boustany and Steve Scalise and Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy can help make that happen by co-sponsoring the bipartisan bills. No matter where they are born, every child deserves a chance at life. Together, we can ensure that millions of children have the gift of a healthy childhood and a bright future.