World Youth Alliance

New research reveals proper maternal health policies work43rd Commission on Population and Development
Issue 1 April 16th, 2010

The long history of the international community’s investment in family planning has had a limited impact on maternal health. It is for this reason that at this 43rd Commission on Population and Development, the World Youth Alliance has called for an emphasis on providing what the World Health Organization has stated will have the greatest impact on maternal health “a continuum of antenatal, delivery and post-partum care” [WHO, 2009. Women and Health, p.47] Yesterday, an article that appeared in the New York Times (1) based on research published in the medical journal, The Lancet (2) provides additional support to our position.

The findings show that there had been a significant drop worldwide in the number of women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth. The study cites four main causes for the worldwide decrease in Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR): lower pregnancy rates in some countries, higher income, which improves nutrition and access to healthcare; more education for women; and the increasing availability of “skilled attendants” to help women give birth.

The study also points to innovative programs: India pays women to get prenatal care, Malawi has been training non-physicians to perform emergency caesarean sections and Brazil’s health system has been providing women with free primary care and skilled birth attendants. These programs ultimately focus on getting pregnant women the care they need which is what maternal health programs are intended to do.

The negotiations of the resolution on Health, Morbidity, Mortality and Development highlight a debate on the question of maternal health. Some support the view that family planning, which aims at improving maternal health statistics by reducing the number of pregnancies, should receive more or as much attention as measures to make pregnancy and delivery safer for women. The World Youth Alliance feels this view fails to respond to the needs of women. As young people from over 100 countries we call upon the international community to commit itself to ensuring access to nutrition, education and primary healthcare and in particular to ensure that all women have access to high quality antenatal, delivery and post-partum care.

The World Youth Alliance is a global coalition of young people from over 100 countries committed to promoting the dignity of the person and building solidarity among youth from developed and developing nations. We train young people to work at the regional and international levels to impact policy and culture. Through this lived experience of the dignity of the person young people are able to affirm life at all levels of society.

(1) New Times, April 13 2010 Maternal Health Declines Sharply Across the Globe by Denis Grady ; (2) The Lancet, Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980–2008 (…) by M C Hogan, K J Foreman, M Naghavi, S Y ahn, M Wang, S M Makela, A D Lopez, R Lozano, C J L Murray