A Letter From the Co-chairs
Helene Gayle and John Hammergren
The CSIS Task Force on Women’s and Family Health brings together a distinguished and diverse group of opinion leaders who will chart a bold vision for the future of U.S. leadership to support the health of women and families around the world.
This is a decisive moment. Millions of the world’s women, men, and children are alive and healthier today because of the collective efforts of national governments, civil society, the faith community, foundations, international organizations, the private sector and key donors, most importantly the United States.
Over the last decade, the U.S. global health agenda has emphasized the critical, inter-related roles of the sectors that drive progress in women’s and family health: family planning and reproductive health; maternal, newborn, and child health; nutrition; and immunizations. More recently, the U.S. government has spearheaded an exceptional array of new policies, commitments, and partnerships that have contributed to substantial progress in ending preventable illness and death among women and children globally.
But persistent challenges remain. Too many mothers still die in childbirth, and too many women still have an unmet need for family planning to space births. Newborn deaths are an increasing proportion of child mortality, and malnutrition is a widespread and critical problem. One in five children, often the most vulnerable, is not getting lifesaving vaccines.
As the Obama administration approaches the end of its tenure, it will be critically important to preserve bipartisan support for continued U.S. investments in these sectors. It will be necessary to set clear priorities that make sense of the proliferation of policies and initiatives in recent years. The upcoming transition to a new administration and Congress is a moment of both uncertainty and opportunity for the future of U.S. leadership for women and families around the world.
The United States must continue its efforts in order to save more lives, sustain American global leadership, and reach broader health, development, foreign policy, and security goals. A vision for 2017 and beyond is essential.
The inherent risks at the end of one administration present an opportunity at the beginning of the next. The CSIS Task Force on Women’s and Family Health will seize this moment to put forward a bold vision of what the United States can do to advance the health of women and families around the world.
The Task Force is made up of a unique group of notable thought leaders, all with extensive expertise and a commitment to examining the facts, making tough choices, and working across diverse views to arrive at a coherent vision for the future. Over the course of the next year, the Task Force will examine current U.S. investments in global programs that address the spectrum of issues that impact the health of women and families, to determine what has been done, what has worked, and what opportunities remain for programs to be more effective and sustainable. The Task Force will chart a concrete road map for the next Administration and Congress to guide U.S. global policy on women’s and family health.
We have chosen these sectors because they are the foundation of healthy families, communities, and societies. Recent progress and momentum on women’s and family health has created a unique opportunity to take a major step forward in improving outcomes and saving lives. These issues enjoy strong bipartisan support for U.S. leadership because they speak directly to core American values.
We undertake this effort with dedication, purpose, and a strong sense of optimism that the United States can sustain and enhance its commitment to the world’s women and families.