Ambassador Richard Verma's Speech at the Valedictory Session of the Call to Action Summit 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015
Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths in India
Ambassador Richard Verma’s Speech at the Valedictory Session of the Call to Action Summit 2015
The U.S. Government is committed to ending preventable maternal and child deaths and looks forward to aligning efforts & ensuring greater impact: Ambassador Verma
U.S. Embassy, India

(As prepared for delivery)

Good afternoon.   I want to extend my congratulations to the Government of India, particularly to Minister Nadda and his team, as well as the other co-hosts – the Government of Ethiopia, USAID, UNICEF, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Tata Trusts, and the World Health Organization – for hosting a successful Call to Action Summit that gathered global leaders, health experts, and community experts to evaluate progress and define ways to prevent, and ultimately, end maternal and child deaths. 

We commend the Government of India in hosting the first Call to Action anniversary summit to take place outside of the United States, and we are pleased that all of you are gathered here in New Delhi for this momentous occasion. 

On the final day of this gathering, I would like to take a moment to honor the mothers and children whose lives we are working to protect.  Everyone in this room has heard a heartbreaking story about a mother who lost her child because she could not get to a health facility in time, or when she arrived at the facility the wait was too long, or there was no one there who was qualified to perform an emergency cesarean, or she could not pay the fee.  As a result of these avoidable obstacles either she or her child – or both – has died.  The details of the story change, but the end result is the same.  Too many women and children are dying. 

Despite inspiring global progress in ending preventable maternal and child deaths, we need to continue our collaboration to accomplish this goal within a generation.  This is the reason you have traveled from around the globe to India: You are here to advance our common commitment to helping mothers and babies who are dying due to circumstances that we can prevent.  You came here to learn from one another, refine strategies for reaching this ambitious yet attainable goal, and then to turn this knowledge into targeted work in countries and communities around the world. 

Like you, we in the United States Government are committed to ending preventable maternal and child deaths and look forward to continuing our work with all of you to align our efforts and ensure we have the greatest impact as we move forward.

Through agencies like USAID, the U.S. Government partners with other governments, the private sector, and local communities to accelerate high-impact approaches to saving lives.  We are working with governments around the world to help implement national strategies for maternal and child health, and to work with local health care providers and women determined to bring about change. 

In India, we’ve seen compelling evidence that by scaling up key interventions, together we can save 4.3 million children and 128,000 women’s lives by 2020.
What an incredible opportunity.

We are fully committed to partnering closely with the Government of India, the private sector and civil society to identify groundbreaking approaches that can leapfrog conventional efforts to reduce preventable child and maternal deaths. 
As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said in his interview with Time magazine earlier this year - the U.S.-India relationship isn’t just about finding ways where we can help each other, but rather what India and the U.S. can together do for the world. 

A key component of this partnership is to foster and build upon catalytic events like this summit to share best practices and learn from our failures. I am confident that a joint learning agenda will save considerable resources for countries around the world, and help achieve reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health outcomes in a considerably faster, better, and cheaper manner.

The India-U.S. strategic partnership is a significant contributor to regional and global stability and prosperity.  The two governments are working together and leveraging our combined capacities to assist other developing countries and address global development challenges for the benefit of the wider region and the world.

Triangular assistance, which entails U.S.-India collaboration to address challenges in developing countries, showcases Indian leadership and know-how, and benefits developing countries in areas including health, energy, food security, disaster management, and women’s empowerment.

To this end, I am excited to announce that USAID/India will soon launch a $5 million project called Global Linkages that will serve as a sharing, learning, and partnership platform on maternal and child health practices, policies, and innovations.  Based in India, the Global Linkages platform will aggregate best practices and innovations in maternal and child health from both the public and private sectors, here as well as in other countries.  I invite you all to partner with us in this new and exciting effort.

This Summit has provided an opportunity for countries and communities to reflect on their successes to date, and to define the best strategies and goals to move forward.  This has been a time for learning and discussion.  Now is the time for action.

As this Summit concludes, I hope we build on the momentum generated in the past two days and use the knowledge shared during the Summit to implement targeted, effective programs and strategies. 

It is always good to reflect on how far we have come, learn about global health best practices, and identify current gaps in our country and community plans.  I know that this planning will culminate in targeted, effective strategies, commitments, and deep partnerships.

  • Leading our countries and making policy decisions that fill existing health care gaps.
  • Collaborating with other countries, local communities, and private stakeholders, and working collectively to address maternal and child health needs. 
  • Piloting innovative health programs and scaling successful initiatives to reach as many mothers and babies as we can, and by continuing to make a difference in the individual lives we touch.
  • By promoting innovation and partnering with stakeholders in the public and private sectors, we can achieve this together.
  • And finally, by making sure that those stories we hear much too often – about mothers and babies who die needlessly because they can’t access appropriate health care become stories of healthy families leading joyful, productive lives. 

 Thank you.


New Delhi, India
Issuing Country