Victor Ncube is a 3-month-old baby at Isaiah’s Baby Home in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, which provides basic services for abandoned or orphaned children.
At any given time, up to 20 children at the home receive free health-care services and nutritional assistance, with the support of Mennonite Central Committee.
About 830 women die each day due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, HIV and AIDS and other preventable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, according to the World Health Organization.
Other causes of early death include a lack of proper nutrition and clean water and insufficient health education.
WHO reports that 99 percent of these preventable deaths occur in developing countries. In 2015, 5.9 million children under the age of 5 died, with 45 percent of these deaths occurring in infancy.
At a recent conference in Montreal, the U.S. government pledged $4.3 billion to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. With this contribution, the fund has nearly met its target of $13 billion.
This demonstration of extraordinary global commitment will fund life-saving treatment and prevention programs for millions of people around the world through 2019. These programs could help save 8 million lives, avert 300 million infections and build resilient and sustainable health systems.
MCC provides support for primary health-promotion projects focused on preventative health strategies, including maternal and child health, nutrition, clean water and sanitation, HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment and response to gender-based violence.
In addition to MCC’s work in Zimbabwe at Isaiah’s Baby Home, MCC funds programs in Uganda to help people living with HIV and AIDS get supplemental feeding and acquire new job skills, which in turn helps restore dignity and hope.
In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, MCC supports mobile health-care services for people who have been displaced from their homes. MCC also helps build the capacity of local partners to improve the quality of care in local health facilities.
As Christians, we understand life as a sacred gift that is to be appreciated, nurtured and protected (Psalm 139:13-14). As part of the global community, we bear a moral obligation and responsibility to do all that we can to eradicate life-threatening diseases and prevent maternal and child deaths.
The Reach Every Mother and Child Act has been introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress. If passed into law, it would improve coordination among U.S. government agencies and relevant foreign governments and international organizations in an effort to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths by 2035.
The bill focuses on helping the poorest and most vulnerable populations of the world move toward effective, self-sustainable health systems.
We hope MCC constituents will ask their members of Congress to support this bill — and to support policies on global health that will strengthen local health systems and prevent the needless deaths of women, children and newborns.
Charles Kwuelum is Legislative Associate for international affairs in the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office. Story originally published on November 7, 2016. Reprinted with permission from Mennonite World Review on November 18, 2016.