A health worker measures a baby’s arm using a MUAC (mid-upper arm circumference) armband at the Adado hospital, in Somalia. The armband helps health workers know if a child is suffering from malnutrition. The head of the hospital acknowledged that the work carried out
Maternal and Child Health and Survival
Over the past 25 years, the world has reduced child mortality by more than half and maternal mortality by nearly as much.
In spite of this progress, 15,000 children still die each day around the globe from preventable causes such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Progress has been the slowest for newborns: Globally, 2.7 million newborns die each year and 2.6 million babies are stillborn.
The first month of a child’s life – the neonatal, or newborn period – carries the highest risk of death. It is also the most dangerous period for the newborn’s mother. Similarly, pneumonia deaths are falling more slowly than other major causes of child mortality.
We must also do more to address maternal health: 303,000 women die as a consequence of pregnancy or childbirth. Maternal mortality is higher among women living in rural areas and among poorer communities. According to experts, when a mother dies in childbirth, her infant has only a 19% chance of surviving his or her first month.
To end preventable child and maternal deaths, we must remain committed to scaling up high-impact, evidence-based interventions from households to hospitals in order to improve outcomes for women and children around the world. Simple interventions such as birthing with a skilled health professional, vaccines, bed nets, and breastfeeding often make the difference between life and death. Achieving this goal also requires greater efforts to reduce disparities within countries and within regions. Currently, 80% of under-five deaths occur in two regions: sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Greater efforts must also be made to address maternal and child health in conflict affected and fragile states where children face twice the risk of dying under age 5 than children in non-fragile contexts.
The U.S. government has been a global leader in addressing maternal and child health: It currently works in 25 priority countries to accelerate progress towards ending preventable child and maternal death utilizing evidence-based, high impact interventions. The work is not yet done – the U.S. commitment to bringing leadership, funding, and expertise to preventing child and maternal deaths globally must continue.
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