RESULTS’ Role in the Child Survival Revolution

May 15, 2012
by Sam Daley-Harris, Founder of RESULTS and CEO of the Center for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation

Problem: In 1984 UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) estimated that 41,000 children under the age of five were dying every day from largely preventable malnutrition and disease, resulting in 15 million child deaths a year.

Opportunity: UNICEF also stated that the promotion of four basic health measures such as the use of oral rehydration therapy, the promotion of breast feeding and the vaccination of children against six child killers could save the lives of 20,000 children a day.

Action: Beginning in 1984 RESULTS mounted a congressional lobbying campaign to fund this child survival revolution. In 1984 the volunteers were responsible for generating $50 million in new funds for primary health and $10 million for nutrition. The lead House sponsor, Congressman Tony Hall wrote, “The success of the primary health care legislative project would not have been possible without the spirited and persistent efforts of RESULTS workers throughout the nation.”

In 1986 RESULTS volunteers generated 90 editorials in a successful effort to triple the Child Survival Fund from $25 million to $75 million with the additional funds to focus on child vaccinations. After the successful campaign, UNICEF Executive Director James P. Grant sent a handwritten note saying, “I want to convey my heartfelt thanks for the unflagging and satisfyingly successful efforts of RESULTS on behalf of vulnerable children and mothers everywhere. I thank you in my mind at least weekly, if not more often, for what you and your colleagues are accomplishing—but I thought I should do it at least once this year in writing.” UNDP Administrator Brad Morse wrote, “I have been following closely the tremendous coverage the [immunization] program has been receiving due to the absolutely outstanding effort of RESULTS.”

Outcome 25 years later: The latest UNICEF figures from 2010 find that 20,880 children under the age of five die each day (down from 41,000 a day), moving the number from 15 million deaths annually to 7.6 million deaths annually. Funding from the US government bilateral accounts for child survival and nutrition totaled $0 at the beginning of 1984 and grew to $700 million in 2012. The latter figure does not include additional funding for the bilateral PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) account or multilateral accounts such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and UNICEF.

To understand the dynamic role the volunteers of RESULTS played in these lobbying campaigns see chapters 4, 7 and 8 of my book Reclaiming Our Democracy: Healing the Break Between People and Government.

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