We Are Letting Down Our Babies, Children and Mums

The phrase "women and children first" is a well-worn one in films, and it is no less significant on issues of extreme world poverty where sadly millions of women and children are dying shocking and unnecessary deaths. Right here, right now. Your neighbors and my neighbors.

In 2000, world leaders promised to halve extreme poverty by 2015 in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and so there is still much to do, and not a lot of time left.
In fact, a day would be too long where deaths are concerned.

So the report published by Countdown to 2015 this week made shocking reading. The group has been tracking the efforts of 75 of the poorest countries and discovered than 50 countries are unlikely to meet the internationally agreed targets for cutting mortality rates for young children and mothers by 2015. And 66 countries will likely fail to meet MDG 5, which calls for a three-quarters reduction in the maternal mortality ratio in the same period.

The report, "Building a Future for Women and Children," said some of the poorest countries have achieved amazing success in reducing child deaths, but urged far more to be done, and soon.

The positive news is that annual maternal deaths have fallen by almost half since 1990 and the number of children under five dying has dropped from 12 million to 7.6 million by 2010.
But it is still a real life horror story that every minute 15 young children die of disease and illness that could have been prevented or treated. Add to that the equally frightening fact that every 90 seconds a woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth complications. In many cases her newborn will also die.

Christians and anti-poverty campaigners will continue to expend time, energy and speeches urging the world to keep to its promises. Micah Challenge remains committed to the mission of reminding politicians of their promises to the poor. We aim to be the voice of those who don't have a voice. It's a duty for the Christian and it's also a privilege.

We are active in dozens of nations across the world, campaigning for mercy and justice. In Benin recently, Micah Challenge campaigning saw 500 church women take to the streets in protest at the lack of maternal health services, resulting in clear commitments from local health officials.
And last month in Zimbabwe, we saw 58 Christian women take a practical step by cleaning up their local clinic, which has boosted staff morale and opened the way for advocacy on the standards and costs of care.

Both are examples of real Christian advocacy in action, and more are planned. Our aim is to mobilize Christians – Pentecostals, Baptists, Catholics, free churches, indeed all denominations – to advocate on behalf of the poor.

Let this final three years see a stepping up of efforts everywhere to save the lives of millions of babies, children and mums everywhere. The clock is ticking.

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