Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome to the World Emma!

Yesterday my family was blessed to have another little girl added to its ranks. Emma was born at 8:16 a.m. EST and weighed in at 7 lbs. 6 ozs. As I looked at the adorable pictures of her (isn't she SO cute!?) that my brother Abraham and his wife Heather posted on Facebook I thought of how blessed she is to live in a country were the neonatal mortality rate is less than 5%. I also thought, however, of many countries were neonatal and child mortality (the death of babies and children) effects families on a daily basis.

During my time at the UN this summer, I have had the opportunity to learn about the fight for life that happens every day in dozens of countries around the world. According to a Save the Children report of the 2010 Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, 33 countries have seen “slow or no progress, and a further five countries – Chad, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – … have actually seen increases in their child mortality rates since 1990.”
At the Neonatal Mortality Panel

In 2000, the United Nations Millennium Declaration was ratified and the Millennium Development Goals (MGD) were created. The MGD’s aim to “improve the wellbeing of millions of people by 2015” and they target eight key areas: 
  1. Poverty and Hunger
  2. Universal Education
  3. Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women
  4. Child Health
  5. Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS
  7. Environmental Sustainability
  8. Global Partnership
The goal of MDG 4 is to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015 and although the global rate has fallen, progress has been far too slow. According to Save the Children, “a recent study found that the rate of reduction has accelerated since 2000, compared with the period from 1990 to 2000. However, the rate of reduction – 28% since the baseline year of 1990 – is well below the 67% reduction required to meet the goal” and this means that every year this goal is not reached millions of children will die needlessly.
Because of baby Emma’s birth yesterday and the upcoming birth of another niece, Sophia, I thought I would focus this post on the dangerous reality that most women in the world face when they have a child.

The reality for many women in the world is opposite of the experience Heather and Emma had this week. They were surrounded by family and friends, and well trained health care workers who skillfully assisted in the birth process, but this year over 2 Million women will give birth to their child completely alone. Not only will they not have access to a skilled health care worker, but they will not even have a friend or family member present. This solo birthing process will result in the death of more than 358,000 mothers, and over 800,000 babies! As astonishing as these numbers are, they are only a fraction of the deaths that will occur within the first month after birth because millions more will die due to neonatal diseases and complications (i.e., pneumonia, birth asphyxia, sepsis, tetanus, diarrhea, etc.). Emma, on the other hand, has an 89% chance of reaching the age of 65 simply because she lives in the United States.

One thing I have learned during my experience at the UN is that although it is important for governments to agree on items like the MDG’s, it is imperative for everyday people to get involved in causes that they believe in. Some of the greatest work happening in the world today is a result of small and large humanitarian organizations that are assisted and funded by people like YOU. I hope this post has helped enlighten you about one more cause you can become involved in and has sparked your interest enough for you to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. The involvement of every person, at every level, is required to reach any of the Millennium Development Goals, so please take this opportunity to find out more about how you can help in your community, your nation, and the world.

Check out these links for more information:

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