Global Health

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Mahlaku Ratau and her mother Matloe Ratau, participants in the “Let’s Talk” program
Parenting in South Africa Amid the Threat of HIV
Six-year-old Yohana Peter and his mother Asunta Wasuk seek treatment for his malaria at Al Sabah Children's Hospital in Juba.
Meeting the Challenge of Malaria in South Sudan
José Azevedo's bicycle is standing against a tree, with a local straw hut in the back suggesting one of Azevedo's health visits.
Health Workers’ Home Visits Rescue Remote Villages in Mozambique

According to the most recent estimates from UNICEF, 5.9 million children died in 2015.

The year before, 289,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth and there were 390,000 new HIV infections in children, with the odds in life already stacked against them. Infectious, life-threatening diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria are further exacerbated by endemic rates of malnutrition and poor access to health services.

While the death of a mother is a tragedy in itself, it has devastating effects for the survival of her children, the economic stability of the family, and the productivity of the community. Children who are healthy avoid permanent disability and spend more time in school. Healthy children grow into healthy adults, who miss fewer days of work, earn more wages, and contribute to strong economies.

We’ve seen extraordinary progress over the last 50 years, as child mortality rates around the world have declined by 70 percent. In just the last two decades, 50 million children were saved, and people are living 21 years longer on average.

USAID is a vital part of that progress.

Our long-term investments in maternal and neonatal health and voluntary family planning have been paying dividends, among them:

  • In 24 countries where we've been heavily involved, maternal mortality declined by 40 to 65 percent.
  • Eleven of the President’s Malaria Initiative focus countries have had reductions in childhood mortality rates, which ranged from 16 to 50 percent. 
  • In one year, USAID-supported programs provided 29 million infants and children with vitamin A supplementation in six countries.

Today, the global community has the knowledge and the tools to do much more.

  • New vaccines against diarrhea and pneumonia, bed nets to protect against malaria, nutrition supplements for pregnant women and young children and a host of similar low-cost, life-saving technologies could save nearly 6 million children a year.
  • At the same time, our family planning programs enable women to have children at their healthiest times, so that both the mother and infant are more likely to survive.

If we can reach children and their mothers with these simple interventions, then we can help achieve the incredible goal of ending preventable child and maternal deaths.

To help realize this vision, we’re making strategic investments that contribute to:

  • Reducing maternal mortality by 30 percent
  • Reducing under-five child mortality by 35 percent
  • Preventing 54 million unintended pregnancies
  • Halving the burden of malaria for 450 million people, representing 70 percent of the at-risk population in Africa

Learn more about A Promise Renewed, the 5th Birthday CampaignGlobal Health Initiative and our work with a wide array of partners to end preventable child deaths.

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Last updated: July 18, 2016

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