"Improving the health of people around the world . . . . is essential to our foreign policy goals and to advancing our national security," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
There is no better place to start than by reducing the number of deaths among mothers and infants in developing countries. That is why the U.S. Agency for International Development launched the "Saving Lives At Birth: A Grand Challenge For Development", a global partnership between USAID; the government of Norway; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the non-profit Grand Challenges Canada; and the World Bank.
"Today, we're launching the first of what I hope will be many and many Grand Challenges in Global Development," said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah at the event.
Each year, more than 150,000 women will die in the first 48 hours after birth and 1.6 million newborns will die in that same time frame. The sad reality is that most of these deaths could have been prevented with access to high quality care.
"We need to invent the solutions that can work in the community to save those lives. And that is what Saving Lives at Birth is all about. It’s a new partnership that brings together dynamic and committed partners that have outstanding track records of success."
"In the developing world, birth can be terrifying because the onset of labor begins a very risky period for both the mother and her baby," said Secretary of State Clinton. "I don’t want to live in a world where nearly 1,000 women die in childbirth every day.
"Through the Saving Lives At Birth Grand Challenge, we're calling on inventors and innovators, creative thinkers, whoever they are and whatever their expertise, to help us get beyond the barriers,” said Secretary Clinton. We're looking for dramatic impact that could increase access to healthcare for women and newborns by at least 50 percent. That is an ambitious goal, but that's what makes it a Grand Challenge.
Nonetheless, a pregnant African woman is 135 times more likely to die during childbirth than her Western counterpart. The goal of Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development is to change the tide on these staggering statistics in Africa and across all regions.