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Posts Tagged ‘White Ribbon Alliance’

More from the Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi.

See below for my recap of the third and final plenary of the conference.

Ann Blanc, Director of the Maternal Health Task Force, welcomed attendees of the Global Maternal Health Conference to the third and final day of the conference. She recalled the Safe Motherhood Conference held in 1987 in Nairobi–and said, “Experts at the Nairobi meeting did not expect to be here today. They would have thought that by now preventable maternal mortality would be a thing of the past.”

Lynn Freedman, Director of the Averting Maternal Death and Disability program at Columbia University and moderator of the final plenary, opened the session with a statement that she said few could argue with: Many of the pieces are in place to make preventable maternal mortality a thing of the past; technical knowledge, money, political will, and big improvements on the great challenges of implementation. What we need now is accountability. The title of plenary three was Maternal health accountability: successes, failures, and new approaches.

Insights from plenary three panelists:

Sigrun Mogedal, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway, discussed bi-lateral and mulit-lateral aid for maternal health. She noted the current momentum around maternal health but reminded conference participants that we have been here before–and asked, “Why should now be different?” She pointed out that consensus in New York is not the same as action on the ground. The missing piece needed for more action on the ground is accountability–and this is a matter of hard domestic policies. She said that bi-lateral and multi-lateral debates “take up too much space.” The global must serve and respond to the local, NOT the other way around.

Helena Hofbauer, Manager of Partnership Development at the International Budget Project, raised questions about aid effectiveness–and discussed national governments’ commitments to spending on maternal health. She described the work of the International Budget Project to use budget analysis to address persistent inequalities in maternal mortality. She said that the budget is a nation’s single most important overarching policy document. Helena asked, “What would happen if people actually asked the government how much and specifically on what they are spending to improve maternal health?” The International Budget Project did ask these questions on behalf of citizens, and the response was “deplorable”. In fact, the reply from Nigeria was that this sort of information is “sensitive and controversial” and from Tajikistan, “Please don’t bother the minister with these sorts of requests.” Helena declared, “This is, in practice, an accountability free zone.”

Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, talked about accountability within the context of a human rights and legal framework for improving maternal health. She described a paradigm shift from considering maternal health solely as a public health issue to now understanding it as a human rights issue. Nancy described the legal framework for how and why governments should be held accountable for maternal deaths–citing the right to life, health, equality and non-discrimination, privacy, spacing of children, to be free from cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and to education, information and the benefits of scientific progress. She described the process of litigation at the national and international level to demand individual compensation and systemic change–noting that demanding this sort of accountability is the next critical step in improving global maternal health.

Aparajita Gogoi, Executive Director of CEDPA India and the India National Coordinator for the White Ribbon Alliance, commented on accountability through grassroots advocacy. She said that working on the issue of accountability at the grassroots level occurs in three phases: gathering information, spreading awareness, and speaking out. She described a number of tools that can be employed to give local communities a voice including public hearings, check lists, verbal autopsies, and more. Aparajita talked about the importance of providing a safe setting for dialogue—a place where communities can voice concerns and demand action. She pointed out that crucial here, is that people with power are also present, take the concerns seriously, and are held accountable for taking action.

For more posts about the Global Maternal Health Conference, click here.

Visit the conference site for archived videos from the conference.

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Stories of Mothers Saved is a joint project by the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to highlight personal stories of what is working to prevent maternal deaths.

The White Ribbon Alliance (WRA)

“…all individuals and organizations are encouraged and welcome to participate in this global project.  Stories of Mothers Saved will collect the stories of women who are living – who did not die needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth – due to a key action taken by her, her family or community, a health worker, political leader or others.  These stories will highlight what works and what must be done at all levels – from providing girls access to education, to saving money to secure transportation to the health facility when labor begins, to having access to family planning services, to receiving an emergency caesarean section, to attending a well equipped and staffed facility because the government prioritized maternal and newborn health…”

The WRA is interested in Stories of Mothers Saved told in a variety of medium—including  photos, written stories, video and audio. 

Detailed instructions for participation are available in English and  French.

Materials are due to the Global Secretariat by Friday, 2 April 2010. 

Please email wra1@whiteribbonalliance.org with any questions or comments about the project.

Stories of Mothers Saved will have its official debut at the Women Deliver Conference 2010 from June 7th to the 9th, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

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Keira Knightley, Annie Lennox, James Purefoy, Beverley Knight, Dervla Kirwan, Colin Salmon and Jonathan Pryce  appear in the three minute film and call on the UK Government to prioritize international maternal and newborn health.

amnesty.org.uk

“…Earlier this week a coalition of organisations including Amnesty, Save the Children and the White Ribbon Alliance, revealed that the rate of pregnant women dying in countries in the developing world is as bad – and in some countries far worse – than the rate of women dying in Britain 100 years ago.

Today Amnesty International also published a major new report on the rate of maternal deaths in the USA, where figures show that two to three women die in childbirth or pregnancy-related factors every day.  These deaths occur because of a lack of health insurance, barriers to health care for those who speak little or no English or who live in poverty, and a shortage of health care professionals in rural and inner-city areas…”

Read the full story and watch the video here.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, the BBC reports on progress toward Millennium Development Goal Five.

BBC

“…For every 100,000 live births in developing countries, 450 women die during pregnancy or labour.

The coalition, which includes White Ribbon Alliance, Amnesty International and Oxfam, says that in 1910, 355 women died per 100,000 live births in England and Wales.

In Scotland and Ireland, the rate was higher – at 572 and 531 respectively.

In Ghana today the rate of pregnancy-related deaths is 560, while in Chad it is 1,500. The rate in the UK is now 14 deaths per 100,000.

The comparison has been drawn because it was 100 years ago that International Women’s Day was established…”

Read the full story, International Women’s Day Call for Labour Deaths Action.


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