World Leaders Must Continue to Act to End Preventable Deaths

This piece originally appeared in HuffPost Global Motherhood.

While many people around the world spent last weekend watching the women’s World Cup, world leaders gathered in a picturesque setting in Germany to discuss such pressing issues as climate change, Ebola and the global economy.

There is no doubt that these are important matters worthy of lengthy conversations and debate, but we must not forget about another priority — our mothers and kids. And they need our help to survive.

Globally, 6.3 million children under age 5 — nearly half of whom are infants — die from preventable causes each year. That is 17,000 who die every day. In addition, 800 women die every day due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The vast majority of these deaths occur in the developing world.

Today, a woman’s risk of dying from childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa is more than 47 times greater than in the United States.

The G7 summit was a key moment for leaders to take decisive action to end millions of preventable maternal and child deaths by 2030. We can reach this ambitious goal, but only if leaders make bold political and financial commitments to ending preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths for good.

Fortunately, during the summit they made significant strides to reaching this goal.

“We are committed to ending preventable child deaths and improving maternal health worldwide, supporting the renewal of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and welcoming the establishment of the Global Financing Facility in support of ‘Every Woman, Every Child,'” the leaders declared. “We fully support the ongoing work of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and look forward to its successful replenishment in 2016 with the support of an enlarged group of donors.”

I commend President Obama and other G7 leaders for their political leadership and sending a clear signal by making several vital commitments, including on maternal, newborn and child health.

But our work doesn’t stop in Germany. We call on President Obama and other world leaders to ensure that all nations commit to this goal in the final agreed-upon framework at the United Nations General Assembly in September in New York City.

The survival of mothers and children all over the world is at stake.

We can end preventable maternal and child deaths in the next 15 years. The motto of the G7 summit was “Think ahead, act together.” Leaders must continue act together to address matters that affect millions of lives each year.

Investing in women and children reduces poverty, stimulates economic growth and, most importantly, saves lives.

Mark K. Shriver is President of Save the Children Action Network.