10.08.15

Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Legislation to Save Lives of Mothers and Children

Washington, DC – Today, a bipartisan team introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, a bold, bipartisan legislative initiative to accelerate the reduction of preventable maternal, newborn and childhood deaths worldwide.

The measure was introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

“In the past fifteen years, the international community has halved the maternal and child mortality rate. This stands as a testament to the power of global cooperation and international development,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a member of the international assistance funding subcommittee and one of the Congressional representatives to the 70th UN General Assembly. “Yet, our work is far from over. Each year, more than 1 million babies die on their very first day of life, many from preventable causes. We can and must do more to stop these unnecessary deaths. The Reach Act will save lives while creating a better world for millions.”

“Every day, 16,000 children die tragic, preventable deaths before they reach the age of 5,” said Congressman Reichert, the Co-Chair of the Global Health Caucus. “While infant mortality rates have decreased significantly over the past 25 years with the United States’ leadership, these numbers are still heart breaking and unacceptable. With better access to care and services for mothers and children, the Reach Act will not only help families rise out of poverty, but will further efforts to decrease infant mortality, and foster stability and security around the world.”

"Improving access to quality health services for mothers, children and newborns around the world must be a United States priority. The Reach Act builds on the remarkable progress the United States has already made to ensure more mothers survive child birth and that more children live to celebrate their 5th birthday,” said Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Co-Chair of the Global Health Caucus. “By implementing new and cost-effective strategies, better using technology, and coordinating resources, we can reach even more families and achieve our shared global goal of ending preventable maternal and child deaths within a generation.  I am pleased to partner with Rep. Dave Reichert and Rep. Barbara Lee on this critical issue."

“It is astonishing to see how much progress has been made thus far in reducing the number of preventable deaths in some of the world’s most impoverished countries. However, there is still much work that needs to be done,” said Congressman Michael McCaul. “I am proud to be the cosponsor of legislation that will accelerate current efforts to eliminate maternal and child deaths within a generation. By developing a strategic, evidence-based approach that effectively utilizes resources, this bill will help save the lives of millions.”

This legislation has already won the support of more than 20 non-governmental organizations (NGO) including RESULTS, World Vision and Save the Children Action Network.

“The introduction of the Reach Act today is an important step toward a goal we now know is possible: the end of preventable child and maternal deaths,” said Dr. Joanne Carter, Executive Director of RESULTS. “Last year USAID embraced a set of reforms so that they can support countries to save even more lives, and with congressional support and oversight, they can go even further. We know that this ambitious goal is possible. With the Reach Act, Congress can help make it a reality.”

“The Reach Every Mother and Child Act provides a critical opportunity for the US Government to strengthen its commitment in serving the global poor,” added World Vision CEO Rich Stearns. “This legislation will ensure that proven cost-effective and life-saving health interventions will be scaled up in the developing world, in order to end preventable maternal and child deaths in our lifetime.” 

“We can end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths within a generation, and this bill will help us do it,” said Save the Children Action Network President Mark Shriver. “I would like to thank Representatives Reichert, Lee, McCaul and McCollum for their leadership and Senators Susan Collins and Chris Coons for introducing a similar bill in the Senate. Every day, 16,000 children under the age of 5 die from preventable causes, like pneumonia and diarrhea. The Reach Act can change this sobering fact by investing in and scaling up proven and inexpensive solutions that save millions of lives.”

Background:

According to experts, nearly 300,000 women die annually from pregnancy and childbirth complications. Furthermore, malnutrition contributes to approximately 45 percent of deaths among children under the age of five, totaling more than 3 million mostly preventable deaths each year.

The Reach Act is the House companion bill to the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (S. 1911) introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Christopher Coons (D-DE.)

The legislation would:

  • Coordinate U.S. government strategy to end preventable maternal, newborn, and childhood deaths globally within a generation;
  • Require targets to be set, tracked, and reported;
  • Focus on the poorest and most vulnerable populations while recognizing the unique needs within different countries and communities;
  • Improve coordination amongst agencies and foreign governments, civil society, and international organizations;
  • Encourage innovative, public-private financing mechanisms; and
  • Accelerate partner country progress toward self-sustainability.

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.