Bill Frist, M.D.
The United States is engaged in a historic debate over government's role in reforming health care. But on the continent of Africa, there is little debate that U.S. investment has reaped major rewards. Yet there, too, reforms are necessary.
By fighting measles, then AIDS and, more recently, malaria, the United States has partnered with African nations to help save millions of lives since the turn of this century. It's a remarkable achievement, and the American people have led; the American taxpayer should be proud.
However, during this same period, with little public notice or attention, more than 40 million newborn African babies and young children have died, mostly from causes such as pneumonia and diarrhea that are easy and relatively inexpensive to treat and prevent - causes that kill few children in the United States.
Tuesday, Save the Children joins national leaders across Africa, UNICEF and many other humanitarian groups in marking the Day of the African Child with a new commitment to boost child survival. On Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon, representatives from the African Union, Mali and Malawi will discuss steps they are taking - and international support they need - to help children survive and thrive.
In recent years, African leaders have formally recognized that pursuing the greatest gains for children - and thus for the continent's future - must go hand in hand with strengthening health systems that can deliver lifesaving interventions. African countries have a long way to go, but some already are demonstrating the huge difference this strategy can make...
I was pleased to hear last month that President Obama plans to maintain the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programs to fight HIV/AIDS while also initiating a broader global health strategy that will increase efforts to promote maternal and child health. Now the United States must clearly articulate the strategy's details and commit to supplying the funding to meet its goals...
The health care solutions for maternal and child health are well-known, proven and cost-effective. They work, and they are cheap. Making them accessible across African communities would save millions of children's lives and transform their nations' potential for future development. What health care reformer - or taxpayer - would debate the merits of that investment.
To read Senator Frist's full op-ed in The Washington Times, please click here.