Originally posted to the Washington Post.
We are on the front lines of one of the quietest—but most compelling—revolutions in human history. It is not marked by upheaval, bloodshed, frantic news coverage or impassioned debate. In the last 50 years, child mortality has dropped by an astonishing 70 percent globally. This revolution of helping children reach their fifth birthday and beyond has brought about happier parents, smaller, more prosperous households, and children with much brighter futures.
America’s legacy here is proud one: With strong bipartisan support, the U.S. government’s support of global health has saved many millions of lives. As current and former assistant administrators of global health at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) during Republican and Democratic presidential administrations, we know the critical importance of accelerating support for child and maternal health programs.
Yet, tragically, more than 7 million children still die each year of largely preventable causes.
For most of history, families were often powerless to ensure the survival of their children. We now understand what causes children to die needlessly, and we know how to save them—in relatively simple and inexpensive ways. It starts with ensuring girls do not get married too young, and when they do get married, that they appropriately space their children. While mothers are pregnant, we help them get proper nutrition to ensure their babies will be born healthy and strong, and we protect their unborn children from HIV and malaria. Once the baby is born, we provide an extremely effective cadre of vaccines that provide immunity from a host of deadly diseases–reaching more than 100 million children a year.
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