Episcopal Relief & Development Pledges to Make Child Survival a Priority

June 14, 2012

Episcopal Relief & Development is participating in the Child Survival Call to Action event being held in Washington, DC, on June 14-15. Convened by the governments of the United States, India and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, this high-level forum brings together an array of public and private constituencies to identify smart investments that will help end preventable child deaths.

Episcopal Relief & Development is one of over 50 partners signing on to the Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed pledge, which commits the agency to promoting ten health-related behaviors that can help parents and guardians protect the lives of children in their care. These include breastfeeding all newborns through the age of six months, immunizing children through the age of two years, providing clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, and having children sleep under mosquito nets in malaria-endemic areas.

The organization is signing onto the pledge as a faith-based organization, through Religions for Peace and the Center for Interfaith Action.

Working through local Church partners in 30 countries, Episcopal Relief & Development promotes health and fights disease by increasing access to prevention education, medical care and clean water. The organization trains community volunteers to provide education and basic health monitoring, supports hospitals and mobile medical clinics, and installs water and sanitation systems to prevent waterborne illnesses. In addition, Episcopal Relief & Development’sNetsforLife® program partnership provides mosquito nets and training to help prevent malaria, which is a leading cause of death of children under five. All of these activities support at least one of the target behaviors outlined in the Committed to Child Survival pledge.

In connection with its maternal and child health programs, Episcopal Relief & Development is facilitating a number of efforts that further establish child health and survival as a priority. For example, the organization’s partner in Zambia, the Zambia Anglican Council (ZAC), recently added child survival elements to two of its existing programs. To increase immunization coverage among young children in rural areas, ZAC is introducing cold chain storage at 74 health clinics and broadening its network of health volunteers to intensify vaccine promotion at the grassroots level. ZAC is also expanding its program for orphans and vulnerable children who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS, to include early childhood development components that address the health and psychosocial needs of very young children and their caregivers. This latter program utilizes the Essential Package strategy developed by Save the Children and CARE, and is funded through a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

“Episcopal Relief & Development is very pleased to be participating in the shaping of strategies that increase child survival, both with our local partners and with our peer organizations,” said Rob Radtke, the organization’s President. “Acting in partnership toward a common goal is the best way to ensure that the global community can make significant gains in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of all children.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.