Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) today introduced the Global Child Survival Act of 2009, which seeks to improve the health of children in the world’s poorest countries. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bob Corker (R-TN) joined Dodd as lead cosponsors of the legislation.
The Global Child Survival Act would require the Obama Administration to develop and implement a strategy to improve the health of, and reduce the mortality rates among, newborns and children in developing countries. This strategy emphasizes the need to utilize cheap and effective treatments such as micronutrients and oral rehydration salts, as well as newly developed treatments like ready-to-use foods and post-natal anti-hemorrhagic medicines. It also supports programs to combat female genital mutilation and promote safe and effective obstetric care.
“It doesn’t cost a lot to save a life,” said Dodd, in a Senate floor statement. “Children in developing countries die of diarrhea every day – but the oral rehydration therapy needed to treat it costs just 54 cents. Children die of respiratory infections – but the treatment costs just 71 cents. The United States does a lot to combat child mortality. But we can do more, we have committed to do more, and we must do more.”
“Every day in developing countries across the world, thousands of women suffer from preventable and treatable complications during childbirth,” Durbin said. “It is heartbreaking to hear stories of women who have been in labor for days before being able to reach a hospital, or of those who die giving birth because basic medical care is out of reach. The U.S. can and must do more. This bill will help ensure the safe birth of children, improve access to educational programs and support vulnerable and orphaned children in developing counties. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and to show America’s commitment to improving the lives of women and children around the world.”
“U.S. led efforts contributed to a 60 percent reduction in global child mortality between 1960 and 1990, but funding has not kept pace with the need for these successful health initiatives,” said Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We have an opportunity through the Global Child Survival Act to save the lives of more children and improve the health of mothers in developing nations. Maintaining U.S. investment in proven, cost-effective programs to combat poverty and disease overseas helps bring stability to unstable and often dangerous regions of the world, ultimately supporting our security interests both at home and abroad.”
Senator Dodd, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, authored similar legislation in the 110th Congress—the Global Child Survival Act of 2007—which was unanimously passed by the Committee last year. The Global Child Survival Act has been endorsed by Save the Children, the U.S. Coalition for Child Survival, and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, among others.