Just in time for Mother's Day, Save the Children's new report, State of the World's Mothers (PDF), makes a compelling connection between the health of mothers and their newborn babies in the developing world, focusing on the high rates of maternal mortality - virtually unchanged in more than a decade - and the deaths of 4 millions children during the neonatal period, most of which are preventable with known interventions. The deaths and disability associated with pregnancy and birth are a profound reminder of the gulf between wealthy and impoverished nations, and between rich and poor within any country.In virtually every poll about foreign aid, Americans say that they want their money to help children in the developing world. How can it be, then, that support in the US development assistance budget for child and maternal health has stayed stagnant at a low level for many years - at a time when spending to fight HIV/AIDS has (rightly) risen dramatically, to now more than $3 billion per year? The US provides only about $600 million a year for programs that save the lives of women and children through such basics as immunization, better prenatalcare and training of birth attendants - a very small fraction of the financing needed to help with the expansion of such programs in the 75 worst-off countries. Doubling or even tripling that funding level would be the right thing to do, and one that befits a country that spends more than $10 billion on Mother's Day cards, flowers and brunches.
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