Guest Columns

The Importance of Saving the Children Anywhere Around the Globe

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By Mary Beth Powers

Mary Beth Powers
Mary Beth Powers

Living in Westchester, global health issues don’t come up that much in everyday conversation. In fact, at dinner parties, people often marvel at what I do for a living.

That’s why I was so pleased to hear President Obama declare in his annual State of the Union address that he will work with our global allies to “save the world’s children from preventable deaths.”

I am proud of my president for his leadership. But I also know that he did not get here on his own and cannot succeed unilaterally. He needs members of Congress who will stand up and make the vision of a healthier world for all a reality through improved policy and funding. One of the greatest champions for women and children – both here in America and around the world—is our very own Rep. Nita Lowey. Mrs. Lowey has made the health of mothers and children a priority, even if they’re not exclusively American mothers and children.

I’m also privileged to announce that Save the Children has recently released a groundbreaking report on breastfeeding, the world’s most powerful defense when it comes to saving children’s lives. Called “Superfood for Babies,” this report shows that breastfeeding immediately after birth could help save 830,000 newborn babies from dying a year, and exclusive breastfeeding for six months could save even more babies and children.

Not only is breastfeeding one of the most effective interventions for saving the lives of children, it’s also one of the cheapest. In fact, U.S. foreign assistance, which supports nutrition programs around the world as well as other lifesaving measures, makes up only 1 percent of the federal budget. As we enter into this appropriations season—especially in light of the sequester that  has now taken effect—we need to support foreign assistance champions like Mrs. Lowey in their leadership to protect this vital funding for the world’s children.

We hope others will follow suit. That’s why we’re calling on our new Secretary of State John Kerry to recommit to the 1,000 Days Partnership. This partnership—named for that critical window from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday—helps countries develop strategies to fight childhood malnutrition.  We also trust that he will encourage the State Department to continue to lead on health diplomacy by coordinating the training and support of health workers around the world.

We all can do something to help babies in the developing world survive.  Please go to and sign our petition to help mothers around the world get more support around breastfeeding and lifesaving nutrition for their babies.

Croton-on-Hudson resident Mary Beth Powers is the newborn and child survival campaign chief for Save the Children.

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