The U.S. Government and Global Maternal & Child Health Efforts
Millions of pregnant women, new mothers, and children experience severe illness or death each year, largely from preventable or treatable causes. Almost all maternal and child deaths (99%) occur in low- and middle-income countries, with Africa being the hardest hit region.
The U.S. government (U.S.) has a long history of supporting global maternal and child health (MCH) efforts and is the largest donor government to MCH activities in the world, in addition to being the single largest donor to nutrition efforts in the world. In recent years, the U.S. has placed a higher priority on MCH and adopted “ending preventable child and maternal deaths” as one of its three main global health goals. Total U.S. funding for MCH and nutrition was $1.4 billion in FY 2017, up from $728 million in FY 2006. It includes the U.S. contributions to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as well as support for polio activities. The current Administration, however, has proposed reduced MCH funding for FY 2018.
The health of mothers and children is interrelated and affected by multiple factors:
- Millions of pregnant women, new mothers, and children experience severe illness or death each year, largely from preventable or treatable causes.
- Almost all maternal and child deaths (99%) occur in the developing world, with Africa being the hardest hit region.
- Attention to maternal and child health (MCH) has been growing, under-five and maternal mortality have fallen substantially since 1990, and improving MCH is seen as critical to fostering economic development.
- Maternal Health: The health of mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the postpartum period.
- Child Health: The health of children from birth through adolescence, with a focus on the health of children under the age of five. Newborn health is the health of babies from birth through the first 28 days of life.
Still, as efforts focus on achieving new global MCH goals such as ending preventable deaths among newborns and children under five and reducing global maternal mortality, significant challenges remain.