Maternal and Child Health

The first five years of life are the most dangerous. Preterm birth, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and other health challenges result in 6.6 million under-5 deaths every year, most of them from preventable causes.

In some parts of the world, a mother is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to finish secondary school.

Progress in child survival and disease control has long been steady, and remains among the Agency’s major accomplishments. About 6 million children under 5 are saved each year through USAID-funded interventions, such as:

  • Newborn resuscitation for birth asphyxia
  • Oral rehydration therapy (ORT)
  • Zinc supplementation to treat diarrhea
  • Basic immunizations for common ailments
  • Micronutrient supplementation to treat malnutrition

Newborn deaths are a large contributor to child deaths and USAID’s leadership is helping to increase access to essential newborn care and addressing one of the three big killers of newborns birth asphyxia, through resuscitation. USAID assistance is also instrumental in improving child and maternal health in other ways, such as increasing access to family planning and reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

The death of a mother profoundly affects the health and well-being of her children. While maternal mortality remains unacceptably high throughout the developing world, a number of USAID-assisted countries have achieved significant reductions in maternal deaths from pregnancy-related causes.

USAID’s approach focuses on high-impact evidence-based interventions that address the leading causes of mortality. Key interventions such as iron supplementation, prevention and treatment of malaria, safe and clean delivery, and prevention and treatment of obstetric and newborn complications are improving health outcomes for mothers and newborns around the world.

  • By 2015, we will increase access to and scale up the proven interventions that address the specific major causes of maternal deaths. This includes changing policies where needed, updating health personnel and community- based workers with the necessary knowledge and skills, ensuring the availability of commodities necessary to deliver high quality care reach women and newborns in need.
  • By 2015, we will scale-up interventions such as family planning and birth spacing, prevention and treatment of mother to child transmission of HIV, malaria and TB, all key to improving maternal and child health.
  • By 2015, to protect children in the first five years of life, we will focus on interventions that have the greatest impact, such as low-cost, easy to use treatments for pneumonia, diarrhea, birth asphyxia, malaria and newborn sepsis.
Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: June 25, 2014

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