Remarks from USAID Admin. Raj Shah on the #5thBday campaign

The following remarks were provided by USAID Administrator Raj Shah to the Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday campaign’s external engagement working group. Inspiring and aspirational words from someone who has been a huge champion for achieving an end to preventable child deaths in a generation. Transcribed brusquely, so apologies for any grammatical missteps. Enjoy:

“The confluence of tech, know how, experience, and data demonstrates that if we do something differently going forward, we can eliminate preventable child deaths in a generation. We need to figure out what that means statistically and what defines a generation…with more partnerships and accountability. In order to get there, we’re excited this Call to Action is not a USG project or program, but a partnership with the UN…with UNICEF…and it’s a partnership with countries, as a missing variable in this space has been the large countries where many of these deaths occur. So I’m excited that countries like India and Ethiopia are co-hosting this event, and countries like Pakistan and Nigeria will be present with such senior level political leadership. []

I wanted to note: this is not a two day meeting, this needs to be a course changing event. And to achieve that, we have to be very clear in what types of changes we want to see as we go forward, and have management systems, incentive structures, accountability measures, and partnerships in place…Teams are working together to develop a specific goal, roadmap, country score cards and a range of public private partnerships to address some of the key bottleneck. First, [we need] an ability to partner differently with countries who account for the largest quantity of children under five. Second, I believe as we continue to achieve rapid reductions in areas like infectious diseases…we also have to focus on the new data that over the last five years we can turn the tide against neonatal mortality in a way that is much more integrated with maternal mortality. We need to stand our vision to fully include neonatal and maternal as a key part of success…And a third concept that represents a strategic shift is looking differently at how we engage public and private sector partners together. Some are commodity bottlenecks, some are accountability…some are the real challenge that countries as they get wealthier will aspire to provide tertiary services to high economic quintiles than reaching those at the lower end of the economic categorization.

I hope this meeting leads to a set of tools, processes, and partnerships with countries, firms and others that will continue for months and months and years and years to come. It’s in those months of focus that we achieve success. We have as a field…excelled together over the past 10-12 years largely by making the case that a particular disease is fully solvable. I’m excited about the Call to Action because I hope to have one platform that brings us together to speak with one voice in a more, powerful, demanding message…when you add it all together, we can wipe out child deaths in a very dramatic fashion.”

– USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah

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