While my recent trip to Togo, West Africa, was not my first medical mission trip, it was by far the most life-changing.
Like children born in many rural South Carolina counties, the Togolese child I held in my arms was born with the odds stacked high against him. His mother was unable to receive prenatal care and since his birth, she has not had access to treatments such as vaccinations for preventable diseases.
In Togo, as well as in many other impoverished nations around the world, preventable illnesses abound and many children die before their first birthday. For them, a simple case of diarrhea could prove life threatening without solutions to prevent dehydration such as Pedialyte or Tylenol to reduce fever.
In those few moments, while holding that child, I felt completely powerless. Was there really nothing more I could do other than watch innocence suffer?
That was unacceptable to me. Therefore, when I found Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), or perhaps SCAN found me, I knew I had to join their work. I attended the Save the Children Action Network Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., this spring, and while there, was able to speak to our elected officials about how vitally important it is for us to be that voice, that advocate, for mothers and babies around the world.
The Reach Every Mother and Child (Reach) Act, introduced by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Chris Coons, D-Del., in 2015, focuses on the poorest and most vulnerable populations and would save the lives of 15 million children and 600,000 women within a generation.
I urge Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham to co-sponsor the Reach Act (S. 1911). What better investment can we make than saving the lives of mothers and children? We must do what we can, when we can, as often as we can.
Donna Williams, R.N.