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Congresswoman McCollum's Remarks at USAID's Maternal Survival: Celebrating Progress & Accelerating Action

April 24, 2012

Thank you to USAID for organizing this evening's event.  I'm honored to be here to celebrate and recognize the efforts to improve maternal health in Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, and Rwanda. 

Making motherhood safe and keeping children alive are global health priorities for me and for USAID.  We know the loss and devastation a mother's death has on her family.  We know how it impacts the health and well-being of her surviving children and the ripple effect it has on her community.  Yet despite all we know, every minute of every day a mother will die because of pregnancy-related complications or child birth. 

What is even more tragic, many of these deaths could be prevented with small, cost-effective interventions -- interventions such as multi-nutrient supplements, misoprostol to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, and training skilled birth attendants.

This is why we must re-commit ourselves to ensuring all girls and women, regardless of where they live, have access to quality health services, education, and economic opportunities.  We must enact policies and fund initiatives that:

  • prevent child marriage,
  • promote girls' education,
  • provide access to family planning,
  • and strengthen women's economic security.

It is not enough for us to talk about prioritizing maternal health and bettering the lives of women.  We have to do something about it.  We must enact legislation, implement policies, and commit real dollars to achieving these goals.  Because when we invest in maternal survival, we save mother's lives, ensure healthier children, and build stronger communities.

It is that simple.

Women remain our world's most under-utilized resource and that has to change.  Already, women are making remarkable contributions in their families, communities, and countries.  But we have more work to do.

Along with the people in this room, I am up for the challenge.  Together, we can make a difference in the lives of mothers and children around the world.  Our future depends on it.

Thank you for being here this evening.