By Scott Weathers
Donating to effective charities is one of the most important acts we can do to improve the lives of the global poor. However, if we want to build on the progress we’ve made in the past 20 years of saving the lives of 48 million children, we must do more than just give money: our voice matters. Congress is currently considering the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (or Reach Act), which would dramatically improve our ability to end preventable newborn and maternal deaths by 2030.
The most important aspect of the Reach Act is that it would give a single leader at USAID the power to focus resources on the most effective interventions. This strategy has already allowed USAID to save millions more lives by prioritizing what works. Other global health initiatives, like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), have had deeper impact using this leadership structure. The potential benefits of this approach are massive – the US already spends plenty of money on global health, but we could accomplish much more if this money was targeted on interventions like vaccines, which we know are effective.
USAID’s priorities affect billions of dollars of aid every year.
The Reach Act also opens up opportunities for new money, both from the private sector and potentially future contributions from Congress, even though the bill itself costs the American taxpayer absolutely nothing. By giving USAID the authority to establish public-private partnerships, USAID can leverage its financial commitments to get even more money from other donors for global health, multiplying its impact. Perhaps more important over the long-term, the Reach Act would require the White House to report to Congress every year on maternal and child mortality – an important improvement that sets global health as a top-level priority.
All of these are much-needed improvements, but here’s what I’m most optimistic about: the Reach Act is quickly gaining support from both Republicans and Democrats. Support for the Reach Act stretches from Rep. Charlie Rangel, a New York Democrat, to Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate. If anything bodes well for global health, it’s that we all agree that the lives of mothers and kids matter.
Asking your representative to support the Reach Act is one of the most impactful ways you can influence government. Write a letter, email, or call your representative to make sure they’re on board with the Reach Act. If you want to be even more involved, get in touch!
Scott Weathers is a Global Policy Associate at IntraHealth International. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org