Focusing on Global Health in May

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Posted on 5/8/2013

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a federal agency dedicated to improving the lives of the world's poorest people through educational initiatives, international financing programs and outreach initiatives. First established in the 1960s by former President John F. Kennedy, USAID works across a variety of sectors, including global health, and ChildFund, as well as other nongovernmental humanitarian organizations, implements programs with funding support from USAID. A recent survey conducted by ChildFund found that while Americans largely want developing countries to shoulder more responsibility, they also tend to drastically overestimate the amount of U.S. support to foreign countries, which is around 1 percent of the annual federal budget.

Much work remains to be done to help children and families worldwide. That's why USAID has designated May and the start of June as Global Health Month+, and during the awareness-building campaign, USAID will focus on a different aspect of international health needs and accomplishments. From May 1 to 10, USAID is emphasizing how science, technology and innovation play a crucial role in improving global health.

Leveraging the Power of Technology

One of the greatest challenges faced in many developing nations is the lack of modern health care facilities. A lack of medicines, equipment and trained physicians has a negative impact on infants' survival rates. To address this urgent problem, USAID launched its "Helping Babies Breathe" program, an initiative that has trained more than 100,000 health care providers in newborn resuscitation in 50 countries around the world over the past two years.

ChildFund has worked with USAID in a number of countries, and with the assistance of USAID grants in some cases, we have launched programs that have made a tangible difference and lowered child and maternal mortality rates in some of the world's poorest countries. For example, in Senegal, mothers and their children face a variety of challenges, including preventable diseases like malaria. Health huts, supported by ChildFund, have distributed more than 800,000 chemically treated mosquito nets in Senegal, as well as clean water and medical supplies like immunizations and medication.

The community health program headed by ChildFund in Senegal is a prime example of how child development agencies and USAID can work together to achieve common goals. In 1998, we launched a childhood nutrition program that was extended until 2006 with funding from USAID, and in that same year, USAID awarded ChildFund $12.8 million to lead a consortium of nongovernmental organizations in a five-year community health project.

Saving Lives

In its recent report to Congress, USAID identified several key areas that can be improved upon to bring life-saving technologies to the world's poorest countries, including forging new global partnerships to overcome distribution bottlenecks, and new delivery systems to ensure communities in desperate need of medicines receive the equipment and supplies they need to save lives.

Every year, almost 7 million children die due to preventable illnesses. USAID, working with partners like ChildFund, aims to reduce this number and improve the lives of millions of children around the world. USAID will be posting regular articles on its official blog about how leveraging the power of technology is crucial to achieving this goal. Together, we can make a difference and fight child poverty around the world.