October 24, 2016
Written by Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez
This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
Last month at the United Nations General Assembly, I was pleased to see a good deal of attention dedicated to the important goal of achieving universal health coverage, with a particular emphasis on the health of mothers and children. A new series launched by The Lancet focused on maternal health specifically, and revealed that maternal deaths have come down by 44 percent in 25 years. During the same period, deaths of children under five have been cut by more than half. However, many challenges remain, and the same old approach will not be sufficient to truly finish the job.
We will need new tools and new ways of doing things to achieve our goal of ending preventable child and maternal deaths, no matter where they live. While innovative financing and new systems approaches will help achieve this goal, we cannot bridge the resource gap and truly accelerate our progress without innovation. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is committed to fostering innovation to reach this goal.
When we embarked on the effort to bring the world together around the goal to end preventable maternal and child deaths, we set ambitious targets to save 15 million children and 600,000 mothers between 2014 and 2020. Modeling revealed that these targets were achievable if we increased coverage of key interventions to the levels seen in what we call “best performer” countries.