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Invest In Frontline Health Workers To Prevent Newborn, Child Deaths

Citing Save the Children’s 14th annual ‘State of the World’s Mothers’ report, which says one million children worldwide die on their first day of life each year, Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) write in a Roll Call opinion piece, “One year after 173 countries pledged to end child mortality in a generation [with the Child Survival Call to Action], it is clear a greater focus on frontline health workers is necessary to achieve that.” They continue, “From discovering new vaccines and treatments to battle childhood disease to providing antiretroviral drugs to roll back the global AIDS crisis, American investments have saved millions of lives. … But we can do even more with our modest but impactful global health investments.” According to Crenshaw and Lowey, “These [investments] make up a fraction of our development and humanitarian funding, which itself is less than one percent of the federal budget. Yet, a greater focus on training and equipping health workers means we could reach more of the most vulnerable children and families with solutions that already exist.”

“Frontline health workers … are often the first and only link to health care for millions of mothers and babies in the developing world,” and “[t]hey provide a range of lifesaving prevention and treatment services where they are most needed,” Crenshaw and Lowey write. “Thanks in part to our country’s support for global health initiatives, child deaths have dropped 40 percent in the past two decades and maternal mortality rates have been cut in half,” and several countries “have … taken important steps to authorize lower-level health workers to deliver lifesaving care — such as injectable antibiotics to treat deadly newborn infections,” they state, concluding, “But a global health worker shortage and lack of training for existing health workers are severely limiting the effect of such decisions. Nearly seven million children still die from largely preventable causes yearly. Three million of them are newborn babies” (6/13).