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Same ‘Bipartisan Energy’ Surrounding PEPFAR Needed To Combat Maternal Mortality

Erin Thornton, executive director of Every Mother Counts, recalls her memories of President George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union announcement of PEPFAR in a Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. “[T]hat night, we set out on a path to overcome that fear and take action,” she writes, adding, “Ten years later, we’re talking about an AIDS-free generation — something we couldn’t have even dreamed of back then.” She continues, “There’s still a ton of work to do to accomplish the goals set out in that now-historic SOTU speech. … But I like to remember that night 10 years ago because in the blink of an eye, the seemingly impossible became a mandate and global health took center stage.”

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday “had that spark, and I found myself wishing the country, our government and the global community would find that same spirit again, but this time dedicated to maternal health,” Thornton writes. “Instead of allowing maternal mortality to be another intractable issue, we need to step up and put the same emergency response energy into it,” she states, noting, “Every Mother Counts is excited to be a founding partner of a new effort called Saving Mothers, Giving Life, which is doing just that.” By “building on [PEPFAR’s] incredible infrastructure that has so effectively reached AIDS patients,” the campaign “aim[s] to reduce maternal deaths by up to 50 percent,” she says, adding, “That’s the kind of audacious goal setting that we need, but we need the same bipartisan energy and determination to turn an ambitious concept into reality” (2/14).