The hearts and hands that raise healthy children

Jun 21, 2016

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Hope Randall
Digital Communications Officer for DefeatDD

This graphic appears in USAID's 2016 Acting on the Call Report.

“This is the story of my life, and it begins the same as everyone else's,” says the narrator of “To Keep a Promise.” It's sweeping and intimate all at once, because it tells the human story: how each of us relies on many hearts and hands to grow up safe, healthy, and whole.

And it is true that for all of us, life begins the same way: the first breath. The cutting of the cord. But the promise of health and of safety, birthrights that are as fundamental as that first breath, remain out of reach for much of the world. 

USAID's 2016 Acting on the Call report looks at sources of inequity in maternal and child health and how the US government is working to address them. For example, the Water for the World Act, passed in 2014, calls for a focus on the poorest communities, and this report notes the global trend toward urbanization is a growing consideration in these efforts. It also acknowledges the inherent linkages of diarrheal disease and other health issues, incorporating “nutrition-sensitive” interventions like WASH into USAID's Multisectoral Nutrition Strategy. Case management for the treatment of pneumonia and diarrhea and equitable access to vaccines are also key themes.  

The rallying cry in this report and in maternal and child health overall is: “We've made great progress, but there's still work to be done.” The shift in the diarrheal disease burden is one chapter in that story: Fewer children are dying from diarrheal disease, yet if those who survive get sick repeatedly in their critical early years, the long-term physical and cognitive growth shortfalls can hold them back for a lifetime. We are clearly not finished yet.

My heart swells with pride when I think about the US efforts to extend our nation's collective heart and hands to heal the most vulnerable and create a more stable, prosperous world. It's no wonder that maternal and child health enjoy strong bipartisan support. You can help strengthen the US government's efforts in maternal and child health by asking your Member of Congress to support the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. It takes a global village of hearts and hands, after all - yours included.