This is a story of politicians’ presidential campaigns compared to different politicians’ life-and-death campaigns for the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015.
On July 29 2015, 23 politicians had announced their candidacies for president.
July 30 Sen, Susan M. Collins (R – ME) announced her campaign to pass the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 (S. 1911) co-sponsored by Chris Coons (D – DE),
“The purpose of our bill is to improve the health and well-being of women and children in developing countries. Every day approximately 800 women will die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. More than 17,000 children under the age of five will die each day of treatable conditions such as prematurity, pneumonia, and diarrhea, with malnutrition being the underlying cause in nearly half those deaths.”
She said treatments are low-cost life-saving protocols such as clean birthing practices, vaccines, nutritional supplements and handwashing with soap.
She explained the bill should stimulate international investments and reduce dependence on U.S. funding. She cited a commission from Lancet, a media group covering global health and medicine (http://www.thelancet.com), which “indicated that for every $1 invested, there is a return of $9 to $20 in growing the gross domestic product of the country receiving the investment.”
As the Senate assigned the bill to the Committee on Foreign Relations, the 24th candidate entered the presidential campaign.
On September 9 UNICEF reported “the number of children who die annually from mostly preventable causes before they turn five now stands at 5.9 million.” That’s a drop from 12.6 million since 1990. UNICEF said the millennial goal to eradicate these preventable deaths is achievable by 2035.
On September 10 senior columnist Jay Evensen in the Deseret News, called that drop in deaths “the greatest success story of our times.” He said the success “involves to a large extent, the U.S. government.”
He believes the bill is essential and free. “It would require USAID to develop a strategy that focuses on the most vulnerable and poorest people worldwide with measurable targets. It would require no extra money.”
On September 17 Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) became a cosponsor.
RESULTS, (www.results.org), a bipartisan non-profit that partners with organizations to prevent child deaths and provides research, indicates only Evensen’s article covered the bill in September. The presidential campaigns were had better coverage.
On October 7 Rep Dave Reichert (R-WA) sponsored HR 3706, the House bill cosponsored by a second Republican and two Democrats.
They sent a letter to their colleagues asking them to co-sponsor, saying, “The US government has a strong bipartisan legacy of leadership on maternal and child health. However it is clear we need to do more.”
In November, RESULTS reports seven newspapers supported the bill including the Seattle Times. The presidential campaigns had more coverage.
The House met for 22 days in November and December. At year-end Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Chair of the House Republican Conference, was one of 62.House cosponsors. Eighteen presidential candidates were still campaigning and media coverage.
As of April 7, RESULTS says the Senate had met for 44 days and the bill has 7 Republican and 7 Democratic cosponsors. The House had met 36 days and the bill has 110 sponsors (46 Republicans and 64 Democrats). That list does not include Rep. Newhouse. Will Boyington from Rep. Newhouse’s office called me to say, “Newhouse is interested in the bill and is reviewing it for sponsoring.” The bills are still in committee.
As of April 7, www.opensecrets.org reported the presidential candidates and super PACs had raised $1.031 billion. Five candidates remain after millions of dollars and time have been wasted on risky campaigns.
As of April 7, 253 days have passed since Sen Collins pleaded that too many mothers and children under five are dying each day.” Evensen later said, “It would require no extra money.” Reichert insisted, “We need to do more.”
These life-and-death campaigns are winning cosponsors. Let’s pass them immediately before we waste more time and money and lose more lives.