Congress can help end the preventable deaths of moms and kids. Let's make sure they do.

It’s 2018, but in low-income countries around the world, about 11 children under the age of 5 are still dying every minute — mostly from treatable causes like diarrhea and pneumonia.

This is an infuriating problem – and like so many things, it might seem too big and overwhelming to fix. But it’s not. In fact, it’s one of the few issues that members of Congress from both parties can get behind.

More than 180 legislators — Republicans and Democrats alike — have signed on to a bill that has the potential to help pave the way for the end of preventable child and maternal deaths by 2035. Yes, it’s possible — and now it’s time for Congress to turn bipartisan support into bipartisan action.

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations should waste no time in taking up the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2017 (S. 1730  and H.R. 4022 ) so this legislation can make its way into law.

The world has made incredible progress on this issue over the last 25 years. With the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its global partners, the number of children under the age of 5 dying annually has fallen at an astonishing rate, from 12.7 million in 1990 to 5.6 million today. But there’s still a long way to go, and the Reach Act will make sure this country does its part to help get there.

This legislation will enshrine important reforms into law, better positioning USAID, our country’s main international development agency, to support countries to save more lives. The Reach Act focuses on what we know works, including quality prenatal care, management of labor and delivery, and basic treatments necessary for child health.

The Senate bill is led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE), and the House bill is led by Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Dan Donovan (R-NY).

Where a baby is born should not determine how long she lives. This is Congress’ chance to show they can come together on the issues that matter most. It’s time to take up this common sense, cost-effective, and lifesaving bill.

What Will This Legislation Do?

The Reach Act will hold USAID accountable for sticking to its promises. Without requiring additional funding, it will ensure USAID:

  • Develops a U.S. government strategy to help end preventable child and maternal deaths with ambitious, clear, and measurable goals;
  • Increases accountability and transparency at all levels;
  • Focuses on the poorest and most vulnerable populations, and recognizes the unique needs within different countries and communities;
  • Scales up what’s proven to work and save the most lives, while reporting against clear targets;
  • Codifies a Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator responsible for oversight;
  • Creates new, innovative funding sources to complement U.S. investment; and
  • Stretches every dollar further to save the most lives.

This legislation will maximize our investments, with returns measured in lives saved and healthy, prosperous communities.

If the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations work quickly to take up this bill, Congress can help make sure that every single child in the world — regardless of where they are born — has a chance to not only survive, but thrive.



Colin Smith

[email protected]

(202) 783-4800 x139

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