The Problem & Solution

Acting on the Call. Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths

Every day this year, 17,000 more children will live, and 650 more mothers will survive childbirth than each day in 1990. But sadly, women and children are still dying in alarming numbers from preventable causes. Each year, 289,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes, and 6.3 million children die before their fifth birthdays – nearly half of them in their first month of life. That translates to 18,000 children under the age of 5 and 800 pregnant women or women during childbirth dying every day.

The disparity between rich and poor nations is still staggering. A child born in a low-income country is still about 18 times more likely to die before the age of 5 than a child born in a wealthy country. And over a lifetime, a woman’s risk of dying as a result of pregnancy and birth – at what should be the most joyous moment of her life – in a low-income country is more than 40 times higher than here in the United States.

The vast majority of maternal and child deaths are preventable. With a smart, focused, innovative approach, we can save millions of mothers and their children and create ripples of change that transform the future of families and their countries.

This year marks the third anniversary of the Child Survival Call to Action and the launch of Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. The 2012 Call to Action was a catalytic event, leading to increased mobilization of resources and efforts. The challenge going forward is to align all actors around those actions that can have the greatest enduring impact.

On June 25, 2014, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Governments of Ethiopia and India, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, came together for a high-level forum called Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths to celebrate progress, assess the challenges that remain and identify the steps needed to sustain momentum in the future. USAID unveiled a roadmap outlining how it plans to support 24 high-priority countries to make sure that children live to celebrate their fifth birthdays and that their mothers live to see them grow. USAID has just released a new report with an update on progress made and an additional focus on the interventions needed to save women and mothers.

The 2015 Acting on the Call: ending preventable child and maternal deaths report reveals that USAID's maternal and child survival efforts have resulted in nearly 2.5 million more children surviving and 200,000 maternal deaths averted since 2008 in USAID's 24 priority countries.

Last updated: June 21, 2016

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