Chotti, who lives in a slum in Delhi, India, lost three babies not long after they were born. While she was pregnant, she did not receive any prenatal care, and she gave birth at home without a skilled health-care worker.
“I didn’t get check-ups — nothing,” Chotti said. “All three children were born, and then they died.”
When Chotti became pregnant a fourth time, her neighbors told her to go see Rima, a Save the Children community health volunteer, who accompanied Chotti to a hospital and helped her register so she could have her birth there.
“In the hospital, the baby was born properly,” Chotti said. “The people helped me. If I had gone to the hospital before, my other children would have survived.”
Chotti’s experience highlights a global story that deserves more attention. Each year, millions of mothers and children from around the world die from largely preventable causes.
What’s more, we’ve made significant strides to reduce the preventable deaths of moms and children to ensure that more families will not endure the heartbreak Chotti had to face. Worldwide, deaths of children under the age of five have been cut in half since 1990. Much of this progress is due to America’s leadership on global health and nutrition programs.
Still, 6.3 million children continue to die each year in their first year of life. That’s nearly 17,000 each and every day. Most of these deaths can easily be prevented. The top three of the five major causes of child death are preventable and treatable — pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. In addition, 800 women die every day due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
We must change this, and the United Nations General Assembly in New York City later this month offers a chance to do just that. On September 25, more than 190 world leaders will vote to adopt 17 Sustainable Development Goals — a new, ambitious set of policies aiming to improve the future of our world.
Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network are prioritizing Goal 3, Good Health, to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages with a particular focus on ending preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children under the age of five.
We know it can be done.
For example, in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the annual rate of reduction of under-five mortality was more than five times faster during 2005-2012 than it was during 1990-1995.
Experts attribute this success to scaling up basic interventions such as immunization rates for childhood vaccines, increased access to diarrhea and pneumonia treatment, and availability of health workers, especially community health workers. Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda are examples of countries that have also led the way by increasing their own budgets for addressing maternal newborn and child health.
To achieve lasting change worldwide, Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network have joined other organizations globally to launch the Action/2015 campaign, which is mobilizing people around the world to encourage government leaders to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals create a strong framework to achieve lasting change for our planet.
I am proud that two of Save the Children Action Network’s Youth Ambassadors, Chloe McGill of Seattle and Sruthi Palaniappan of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will attend the UN meeting in New York to help advocate on behalf of mothers and children across the world.
You can help, too.
Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Chris Coons of Delaware recently introduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. If enacted, it would scale up the low-cost, high-impact strategies we know will work to prevent maternal and child deaths to the countries that need them most. Please click here to contact your senators and urge them to co-sponsor this vital legislation.
Together, we can help women like Chotti bring their children into the world safely and make sure their kids make it to their fifth birthday and beyond.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, “What’s Working: Sustainable Development Goals,” in conjunction with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development — including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post’s commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What’s Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 3.