News

83 Nations Call for Maternal Health to Be Recognized as a Human Right

13 March 2009
Author: UNFPA

GENEVA - In a joint statement delivered to the Human Rights Council, 83 countries reaffirmed their commitment to addressing maternal mortality as a human rights issue. They called on the Council to take action to address the unacceptably high number of women of women who die every year from reasons associated with childbirth and pregnancy. The signatories range from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where women have a 1 in 22 lifetime risk of maternal death, to Switzerland, where the risk of maternal death is about 1 in 14,000. The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States and is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.

Every year more than 500,000 women die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth. The majority of these women are dying from preventable causes for which highly effective interventions exist. The failure to prevent these deaths is more than an indication of weak health systems and lack of access to proper medical care, it an obstruction to the universal realization of human rights including women’s right to health, life, education, dignity, access to information and appropriate healthcare.

With the Statement on Maternal Mortality, the HRC is being asked to contribute to current efforts to improve maternal health and undertake specific actions such as :

  • Consider information on discrimination in the provision of and access to healthcare for women and discrimination against women in respect of their right to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and
  • Request States to include women in decision-making about maternal health, including decisions on the design of local health care mechanisms, and to recognize women’s right to skilled professional care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth.
Switzerland
Population : 8.6 mil
Fertility rate
1.6
Maternal Mortality Ratio
5
Contraceptives prevalence rate
73
Population aged 10-24
15%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 87%
Girls 84%

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