Burkina Faso: Pregnant Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights dying because of discrimination- new Amnesty report

Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are dying needlessly during pregnancy and childbirth because discrimination prevents them from accessing sexual and reproductive health services, leaving them unable to make key decisions on their pregnancies, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

Every year in Burkina Faso more than 2,000 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, according to government figures.

Amnesty International’s report Giving Life, Risking Death found that many of these deaths could have been easily prevented if Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were given access to adequate healthcare on time.

Amnesty International’s interim Secretary-General Claudio Cordone said: 

“Every woman has the right to life and the right to adequate healthcare, and the government should redouble its efforts to address preventable maternal death. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Burkina Faso are trapped in a vicious cycle of discrimination which makes giving birth potentially lethal.

Most Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Burkina Faso are subordinate to the men in their lives with little or no control over key decisions such as when to seek medical care and the timing and spacing of their pregnancies in spite of having equal status under Burkinabe law. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and girls continue to be subjected to early marriages and female genital mutilation.

The Burkina Faso government, with the help of the donor community, has developed ambitious strategies that have lowered maternal death rates in some parts of the country. However these are undermined by failures in implementation and a lack of accountability that allows medical personnel to get away with abuses, such as illegal demands for payments.

Poverty is a key contributing factor in preventable maternal death, particularly for impoverished Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights living in rural areas who face both financial and geographical obstacles to accessing healthcare. In 2006, the Burkinabe government introduced a policy to subsidise 80 per cent of the cost of childbirth and making it completely free for the most impoverished Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. However this policy is not well publicised leaving it open to exploitation by corrupt medical staff. Criteria have not been elaborated to establish who qualifies for subsidised care so costs continue to act as a barrier in accessing medical care.
Amnesty’s new report says that unequal access to adequate health facilities especially in rural areas; shortages of medical supplies and trained personnel and negative or discriminatory attitudes of health workers are also preventing Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights from seeking care.

Claudio Cordone continued:

“Maternal death is a tragedy that robs thousands of families of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters each year. So long as Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are not allowed control over their own bodies, they will continue to die in their thousands.”

The authorities have responded to the report which was sent to them in advance by welcoming “the meticulous and important” work done by Amnesty International, while stressing that the cases of misbehaviour by medical personnel were “isolated” and reiterating the authorities’ commitment to address the problem of maternal mortality in the country.

Amnesty International is calling on the government to expand and improve access to family planning services, to remove financial barriers to maternal healthcare services, to ensure an even distribution of health facilities and trained staff across the country and to set up a well-publicised and accessible accountability mechanism to help combat corruption and mismanagement.

Notes to the editor
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 177 out of 182 countries in the UNDP 2009 Human Development Report
•    From 28 January to 9 February a campaign caravan will tour Burkina Faso, informing people of Amnesty’s campaign to end maternal mortality in the country and providing information to stimulate debate.
•    From 10 to 13 February the interim Secretary General of Amnesty International will meet with senior authorities in Burkina Faso to share the findings from the caravan tour, and to discuss government plans to address mate

  • Download the report - Giving Life, Risking Death (PDF)
  • Find out more about Amnesty's work on maternal health /li>

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