Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday

Posted by Nicole Schiegg
April 23, 2012

Today the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and several partners including UNICEF launched "Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday". The premise of this awareness-raising campaign is simple: every child should have a chance to reach five. Over 7 million children -- most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia -- didn't reach their 5th birthday last year. That number is equivalent to the entire population of New York City.

At an event this morning at the Kaiser Family Foundation, USAID Administrator Raj Shah talked about his own three children. Dr. Shah mentioned his second child, Amna, who will turn five next year. I celebrated reaching five with a carousel cake and a Smurf-themed party. Likely Amna's birthday will feature Dora the Explorer or a character that is more current!

Dr. Shah talked about how Amna will receive a common gift when American children turn five: a backpack. The sad truth is that over 7 million kids won't survive to five. But there is good news. We have the tools we need to change this brutal fact of life. And all of them just happen to fit in a backpack.

So instead of books, imagine the following. A vaccine. A bed net. A ready-to-use, highly nutritious supplement. A package of antiretrovirals. A bag mask to help babies breathe. Together these tools cost about $30. Together, they can address the leading causes of preventable child death in most developing countries.

That's what the 5th Birthday campaign is all about. We must ensure that affordable tools reach the most vulnerable children around the world. This isn't the responsibility of just the United States. It is a shared value with countries and citizens around the world.

Checkout the short video above and join our awareness-raising campaign to spur global action and to hold all countries to account. Post a photo from your fifth birthday -- if you can't find one, any photo of you or your kids at five will work -- and share it via our website and social media outlets. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using #5thBDay. Let's mobilize the world toward the goal of ending preventable child deaths.

Editor's Note: This entry first appeared on the White House Blog.



Massachusetts, USA
April 24, 2012

Maureen in Massachusetts writes:

Thank you Nicole Shiegg for your creative post.

We have the Dora back pack. We have the photos but I dare not post due to the dangers associated of posting children on social media. I am touched by Administrator Raj Shah's commitment to the plight of healthy children across the globe. Time and time again he is making a difference and I am impressed with his ability to seek new ways to reach people and connect.

I am thinking of the back pack and the life saving supplies. I'm thinking of Haiti. I'm thinking of the film Hunger Games ….
I'm thinking that for every expedition in the Alpes- the back pack was key and it was the go to. I remember. Yes, the back pack can represent the symbol of survival. The thirty dollars and the 7 million kids that won't...very effective campaign.

I'm thinking that I am so fortunate to fill our children's packs for school with books and lunch and water or whatever beverage they desire. I tell them and share entries such as this but do the children of America know the burden and responsibility on our heels?

Are we fully cognizant that we live in a country where we can "fill" the pack even as adults?

So I am thankful for people such as Raj Shah and his reminder. I don't forget and I do appreciate and I want him to know that his efforts are so very much noticed.


Latest Stories