Why 5 matters

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On Wednesday, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and a host of international government leaders, development partners and other organizations will be joining together in Washington to highlight commitments being made to end preventable child deaths. Each year, 6.6 million children under the age of 5 die, mostly because of preventable illnesses like diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria. This is a staggering 18,000 kids every day.

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Research shows that once a child can hit his or her fifth birthday, they are well on the path to a healthy, productive adulthood. This means that communities and countries have the human resources they need to grow their economies, helping them to become trading partners for the United States and providing the stability needed to give communities hope for a better future.

There has been a lot of success in reducing preventable child deaths, which have consistently fallen since 1990, when more than 12 million kids were dying each year. Much of this success is due to the bipartisan leadership of the United States. But now is not the time to take our foot off the gas pedal when so much investment and progress have taken place. While it's easy to buy into the "we have problems at home" philosophy when it comes to foreign assistance, the problems we have here in the U.S. don't include severe stunting that impacts growth and cognitive function (which impacts 165 million children around the world) or death by mosquito (malaria, which kills a child every minute).

Unlike many of the issues facing Congress and the administration, these are challenges that have clear, scientifically proven and often inexpensive solutions. So let's put our money where our mouth is when it comes to showing the compassion and leadership of the United States and invest the resources needed to end preventable child deaths once and for all.

Bos is senior policy advisor for health, education and WASH at World Vision U.S.