Lifesaving Reach Act can impact mothers and children around the globe


All kids deserve a strong start at life and the opportunity not to just survive but to thrive, no matter where they are born.

Tragically, each day, 16,000 children under the age of 5 die from preventable causes such as pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration and diarrhea. Mothers are also extremely vulnerable, with 800 women dying each day from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

Largely due to U.S. leadership, the world has made great progress in reducing this number since 1990. We have done so through U.S. foreign assistance programs that represent less than 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget, and only a fraction of this funding is spent on global maternal and child survival programs.

Despite these modest resources, these programs have saved 4.6 million children’s lives in less than a decade. This is one of the great success stories in international development. We have helped countries and communities build the capacity to care for their children and help lift themselves out of poverty.

We have helped empower other countries to take ownership over their own programs to improve maternal and child survival. For example, U.S. government support has led to increased national investments in maternal and child health in Ethiopia, which established the Health Extension Program in 2003 and has since trained 38,000 health workers to deliver basic health services.

Despite these successes, more can be done at a minimal cost to American taxpayers. Doing more to save the lives of mothers and children around the world will further establish America’s moral leadership and help create a more stable, safer world. That’s why I am proud to reintroduce a bipartisan bill along with Reps. Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota, Daniel Donovan, R-New York, and Barbara Lee, D-California, that would do just that — the Reach Every Mother and Child (Reach) Act. The Reach Act would greatly improve the rate at which moms and kids survive, and it would put us that much closer to the global commitment of ending all preventable deaths in the next generation globally.

Through implementing strategies and tactics learned from other hugely successful and bipartisan global health initiatives such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Reach Act would streamline and increase the impact of USAID’s maternal and child survival programs in the countries that need it the most.

These programs would be executed under the guidance of a coordinated U.S. government strategy aimed at ending preventable child and maternal deaths and implementing key reforms to improve the efficiency and impact of our taxpayer dollars. This would include requiring reporting to improve transparency, accountability, efficiency and oversight of maternal and child health programs and ensuring that USAID focuses on increasing access to the highest impact, evidence-based interventions to maximize our return on investment.

The Reach Act would also designate a current USAID employee as the child and maternal survival coordinator, helping to ensure the reforms in this legislation are achieved and all relevant U.S. government programs are coordinated and work in cooperation with each other as well as with nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. To help countries become more self-sustaining and to complement existing assistance, the bill would provide USAID with the authority to explore and implement new and innovative financing tools, such as pay-for-outcome contracting that would leverage investments and ensure that dollars are being spent wisely on key programs that will improve the lives of women and children globally.

This critical legislation works without authorizing new programs to be funded by the American taxpayer. It only ensures our government and partners are using existing resources as effectively as possible to save the lives of mothers and children around the world.

I am thankful for the enormous support the Reach Act garnered in the 114th Congress — 219 co-sponsors in the U.S. House and 35 in the Senate. That is one of the most widely supported pieces of any bipartisan global health legislation in the past decade. I urge my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to join me in pushing for this lifesaving bill to become law.

Reichert is a U.S. representative for Washington’s 8th Congressional District.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Letters to the editor: Feb. 26, 2018

Where is your outrage, President Trump? The Mueller investigation uncovered possibly the most concentrated effort at election tampering in our history, yet you seem strangely unfazed. In fact, your overriding emotion appears to be relief that you are personally exonerated. A fair electoral process is the cornerstone of our democracy — and any...
Commentary: How one lawyer proves her faith in criminal rehabilitation
Commentary: How one lawyer proves her faith in criminal rehabilitation

Any criminal justice system has two purposes: The first is to punish those who have broken the law; the second is to bring about rehabilitation in the lawbreaker, so that he or she will turn his back on a life of crime and embrace a law-abiding life in society. The first is accomplished largely within the closed ranks of the legal system, through courts...
Opinion: Is Trump guilty, or does he just look guilty?

When absorbing news about the Mueller investigation, I can’t help thinking of Saddam Hussein. No, I’m not equating our president with the late Iraqi dictator. I’m thinking more about our assumptions regarding Saddam’s guilt. In the run-up to the Iraq War, the whole world was asking whether Saddam had a secret program for weapons...
Opinion: The content of the GOP’s character

Even those who have long since accepted the premise that Donald Trump is corrupt, self-centered and dishonest seem a bit shocked by his tirades over the Presidents Day weekend. Using the Parkland, Florida, massacre as an excuse to attack the FBI for investigating Russian election intervention on his behalf — while lying about his own past denials...
Viewpoints: Listen, America. Our kids have something to say about guns

The national gun debate has a new, youthful face. This time children are the grown-ups driving the discussion, and they have something to say. We should all listen. Who knows whether we will one day look on the students’ activism as a tipping point for seismic change? For now, there’s no denying their movement is extraordinary and is reverberating...
More Stories