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Petition: Save Children from Preventable Deaths! (Unicef) November 16, 2008 7:38 AM

If you saw eight children drowning in a pool, would you feel satisfied if you only brought the first four to safety? Would you rest comfortably knowing that the other four were still drowning, even though you had the means to save them simply by calling for help, extending a hand or tossing a rope? Of course not.

At UNICEF, we believe in children. We believe deeply that every child—regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality or economic status—is equally deserving of a future. We believe that every child, not a percentage of children, should be afforded basic lifesaving vaccines, clean water, nutrition, protection from violence and a chance to survive to adulthood.

It all starts with child survival—ensuring that newborns, young children and their mothers have what they need to stay healthy and have the opportunity to grow up. Too many children don’t get that opportunity—every day, 25,000 children under the age of five die of preventable causes. They don’t have to die, but they do.

UNICEF believes it is possible to reach zero—zero child lives lost to preventable causes like pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition and infection; zero children disabled by unnecessary illness; zero mothers dying as they give birth for lack of health care.

An impossible dream? No, an achievable goal—with enough will and enough resources. UNICEF has proven that we know how to stop this from happening, with integrated, cost-effective solutions.

What’s missing? Leadership. Everyone has a part to play: individuals, corporations, civic groups, church organizations—and, yes, government. We need the United States to provide leadership on child survival. That means both Congress and the President.

We have seen what can be accomplished when both the White House and the Capitol work together to help poor countries. Recent Presidential Initiatives on HIV/AIDS and Malaria succeeded in mobilizing leadership, action and resources to make amazing progress in addressing those diseases.

But fighting those diseases is not enough. Though many child lives have been saved, too many countries—articularly in Africa—have shown little or no improvement over the past ten years.

We want the next President of the United States, President–elect Obama, to take a stand for the world’s children. We want a Presidential Initiative to Accelerate Child Survival that focuses like a laser on doing what it takes to eliminate the preventable deaths of newborns, children and mothers.

But, we won’t “get to zero” if we continue business as usual. We need to step things up. And we need the new President to lead. With the right leadership, the resources and results can flow.

Our petition for this Presidential Initiative calls for a dramatic scale–up of the coordinated, high-impact interventions that are proven to save child lives in even the poorest communities. The Initiative would provide $1 billion a year for the next five years to implement accelerated child survival strategies in the countries where the most children are dying. With an investment like this from the United States Government, UNICEF calculates an additional three million children’s lives can be saved by 2012.

Just think… three million lives saved in under four years. At that rate, we could get to zero in less than a generation. What an accomplishment that would be for all humanity.

If YOU believe in zero, and YOU want our government to lead the way for the world to do right by its children—sign our petition!
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