Today I attended an event at CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) in which Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) spoke about maternal and child health in developing countries. Congresswoman McCollum expressed her persistent commitment to furthering efforts made in the area of maternal and child health. She also expressed her displeasure at the pace of current efforts by the United States, citing the report of the G8 health experts group. According to McCollum, the U.S is not doing enough to build sustainable health systems in developing countries. Women and children are still dying needlessly; every day 2,500 children and 1,500 women die from child birth in poor countries. This is not because we are unaware of the extent of the situation or what needs to be done. In fact, everyone from the ministers in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia to the leaders of the developed world knows what needs to be done.
In the opinion of the Congresswoman, maternal and child health is unfortunately not a top priority in Congress, nor does it have the necessary support in some developing nations. She strongly encouraged everyone involved in this issue to look at it from a different perspective. To be effective we need a combination of policy, politics and pressure at both the national and global level. It should be a priority to engage the civil society of the developing world to heighten awareness of the issue. She placed great importance on the need for the prompt appointment of an administrator of USAID (the United States Agency for International Development). McCollum also highlighted her H.R.1410 bill – Newborn, Child and Mother Survival Act. She concluded by praising the work done by the NGO community on this issue and encouraging continued action, in both the developed and developing world.