America and our partners have more than doubled the number of people who get AIDS drugs. We’ll soon cut maternal mortality by a quarter. How? The answer may surprise you.
When I became Secretary of State, I asked our diplomats and development experts: “How can we do better?” I could see our strengths, including tens of thousands of public servants who get up every day thinking about how to advance America’s interests and promote our values around the world. At the same time, I could also see areas where we could be stronger partners, and where we could do more to get the most out of every hour of effort and dollar of funding. I saw it in our diplomacy, in our development efforts—and in our global health work.
Last year, at a rural health clinic in Rwanda, I watched women queuing nervously for pregnancy tests and jumping for joy when they received the results. They were joyous because the test was negative. These women knew they would not have to risk their lives by having a baby because of an unintended pregnancy.
The shocking reality is that pregnancy and childbirth continue to be a death sentence for a third of a million girls and women in the developing world every year. In Afghanistan, a girl is more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than she is to attend secondary school.
Giving women access to family planning so they can decide whether, when and how many children they have, is one of the most effective ways to tackle the scandal of maternal death that afflicts the world’s poorest women.