Save Millions of Lives with this One Weird Trick

Save Millions of Lives with this One Weird Trick

4/25/16
I’ve always been amused by those crudely drawn clickbait ads you see on the bottom of websites promising to solve all of your problems in the blink of an eye. Even though we know that there’s no “ancient secret to erasing wrinkles” or “one weird trick” that will melt away my belly fat in a week, we secretly hope that the answer to all of life’s problems might be hiding in plain sight. Unfortunately, we also know that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. There isn’t going to be one weird trick that will solve all of our problems.
 
Unless that problem happens to be how to save millions of lives around the world.
 
Every day, 830 women die due to complications related to pregnancy, and 16,000 children die from preventable causes.  These deaths are not just tragedies, they place tremendous social and economic stresses on families and communities, feeding a cycle of poverty.  At the same time, over 225 million women around the world who would like to delay pregnancy are unable to access modern contraceptives needed to do so.
 
What do these numbers have to do with each other?  Here’s where that one weird trick comes in:  If that unmet need for family planning was met and women were able to practice the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, maternal deaths would drop by 67% and under-five deaths would drop by 25%
 
This one trick could save over a million and a half lives every year.
 
It’s not just countless lives that can be saved by timing and spacing of pregnancies, its countless lives changed:
 
  • Women who have access to family planning are more likely to complete their education and enjoy higher household savings and assets. 
  • Children whose mothers have healthy pregnancies are more likely to survive past their fifth birthday and go on to lead productive lives.
  • It’s also a good investment, every $1 invested in family planning saves $1.47 in overall healthcare spending, saving money, saving lives, and reducing the burden on health systems.
 
Of course, family planning isn’t our only trick. Simple interventions like vaccines, or access to clean water, or proper nutrition all have the potential to save countless lives.  The important thing is that women, moms, and kids have access to the full continuum of care they need to stay healthy— from family planning, to prenatal care, to safe deliveries.
 
So how do we make sure we’re using these tricks? Legislation like the Reach Every Mother and Child Act is aimed at ensuring the U.S. is providing the most effective and comprehensive care possible, including healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies.  Similarly, U.S. funding for critical international family planning programs helps ensure that those 225 million women around the world get the tools and education they need to plan their families.
 
Since 1990, we’ve reduced maternal death rates by 43% and child mortality by over 50%. This is a great achievement, but we can do better. With more support for proven, effective treatments like family planning, we can end preventable maternal and child deaths within a generation.
 
That’s a trick that’s too good not to be true.   
 
By: Ben Weingrod
Senior Policy Advocate

 

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