Coalition urges Nick Clegg to prioritise maternal health at next week's summit

Amnesty International UK, IPPF, Oxfam, Marie Stopes, Mumsnet, Save the Children's rights, WaterAid, White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood

A coalition made up of Amnesty International, IPPF, Oxfam, Marie Stopes, Mumsnet, Save the Children's rights, WaterAid, and the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood last night (Thursday 16) urged Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to ensure maternal health is made a top priority at next week’s United Nations Millennium Development Goal Review Summit (20 – 22 September).  

Representatives including Kate Allen (Amnesty International UK Director), and Justine Roberts & Carrie Longton (Mumsnet Founders) and WaterAid’s Mary O'Connell presented a giant-sized card to the Deputy Prime Minister which sent a stark reminder that all pregnant Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights should be able to access their right to the highest standards of health care.

Nick Clegg received the ‘Every Day should be Mother’s Day’ card at Mumsnet’s headquarters in central London where he was doing a live webchat with the Mumsnet community.

The card comprised pictures from Amnesty activists who had sent in personal photographs of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights with their Children's rights. The message in the card reminded the UK Government to uphold its global commitment to improve health care for pregnant Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

Every year more than 350,000 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights die as a result of pregnancy or other childbirth-related factors. Tragically for 99 per cent of these Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, their deaths could have been avoided. Yet poverty, inequality and discrimination have resulted in far too many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights dying during their pregnancy.

Next week world leaders – including Nick Clegg – will meet in New York to discuss progress on anti-poverty goals – the Millennium Development Goals.  Of the eight Goals the target to improve maternal health – which includes reducing the number of pregnancy-related deaths by 75 per cent and increasing access to sexual and reproductive services – is lagging the furthest behind.

Amnesty International’s UK Director, Kate Allen presented the card to Nick Clegg. She said:

“Ten years ago, the international community recognised that alarming rates of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were dying needlessly due to pregnancy or childbirth-related factors.  Yet despite this, very little has improved for the world’s poorest Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

“As Nick Clegg heads off to the New York Summit, we hope this card reminds him that all pregnant Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights should have access to the best available health care, as a basic human right.”

Brigid McConville, UK Director of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood said:

“We now have the opportunity of a lifetime to really change the life chances of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, babies and Children's rights. We congratulate the government on making maternal health a priority, we urge them to continue the leadership that has been shown by the UK in recent years – and make sure that there is now urgent action to make sure the promises of world leaders to end the needless deaths of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in childbirth are kept.”

Carrie Longton, Founder of Mumsnet said:

"It was great that both Nick Clegg and David Cameron committed to the Manifesto for Motherhood before the general election, and we're delighted that Nick Clegg has put maternal health at the top of his agenda this September. We really hope that his commitment results in a positive outcome for the many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights around the world who will otherwise die needlessly this year, through birth and pregnancy-related complications."

Although most of the highest rates of maternal mortality are found in sub-Saharan Africa – with Afghanistan being the exception to this rule – challenges to pregnant Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s health are found in all continents of the world.

In the USA, Amnesty reported that African-American Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, and these disparities have not improved for more than 20 years.  

Meanwhile in Peru, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in rural areas are twice as likely as those in urban areas to die from causes related to pregnancy, and indigenous Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are regularly discriminated against in health centres. They are often refused their request to give birth in the vertical position – an ancestral tradition amongst many indigenous Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Peru which is faster and easier for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights. Because of language barriers with most health workers not able to speak local languages, indigenous Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are more likely to be incorrectly diagnosed should any complications arise.

In Chad, only one per cent of the poorest Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are attended by skilled health personnel during delivery, compared with 48 per cent of the wealthiest Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

Kate Allen added:

“World leaders must stop falling short on their promises. They should put into practice systems to ensure that discrimination, inequality and poverty no longer prevent hundreds of thousands of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights from accessing their basic right to adequate health care.  This must be done as a matter of urgency.

“The world’s poorest Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights cannot wait another five years. People are dying needlessly and the international community simply isn’t doing enough to prevent it.”

 

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