Let’s back political campaigns that are guaranteed winners and will save lives

By Jim Russell
Empire Press Correspondent

This is a story of politicians’ presidential campaigns compared to other 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.

On July 30, Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) announced her campaign to pass the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 (S. 1911), co-sponsored by Chris Coons (D-Del.).

 

Sen. Susan M. Collins (Provided photo)

Sen. Susan M. Collins (Provided photo)

 

“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 5 will die each day of treatable conditions such as prematurity, pneumonia and diarrhea, with malnutrition being the underlying cause in nearly half those deaths,” said Collins.

She said treatments are low-cost, life-saving protocols such as clean birthing practices, vaccines, nutritional supplements and handwashing with soap.

Collins explained the bill should stimulate international investments and reduce dependence on U.S. funding. She cited a commission from The Lancet (thelancet.com), a media group covering global health and medicine, 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 Sept. 9, the the children’s rights and emergency relief organization UNICEF reported, “the number of children who die annually from mostly preventable causes before they turn 5 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 Sept. 10, Deseret News (deseretnews.com) senior columnist Jay Evensen called that drop in deaths “the great success story of our times.” He said the success “involves, to a large extent, the U.S. government…”

Evensen 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 Sept. 17, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) became a cosponsor.

RESULTS (results.org), a bipartisan, nonprofit that partners with organizations to prevent child deaths and provides research, indicates only Evensen’s article covered the bill in September. The presidential campaigns had better coverage.

On Oct. 7, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) sponsored the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 (H.R. 3706) companion bill in the House, cosponsored by a second Republican and two Democrats.

 

Rep. Dave Reichert (Provided photo)

Rep. Dave Reichert (Provided photo)

 

They sent a letter to their colleagues asking them to cosponsor saying, “The U.S. 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. By the end of the year, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chair of the House Republican Conference, was one of 62 House cosponsors of the bill. Eighteen presidential candidates were still campaigning and had more media coverage.

As of April 7, RESULTS says the Senate had met for 44 days and the bill has seven Republican and seven 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. Dan Newhouse. Will Boyington, communications director for Newhouse, 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, OpenSecrets.org, which refers to itself as a “center for responsive politics,” reported the presidential candidates and super PACs had raised $1.031 billion. Five candidates remain after millions of dollars and considerable time have been wasted on risky campaigns.

As of April 7, 253 days have passed since Collins pleaded that too many mothers and children under 5 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.