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VATICAN - To effectively reduce the tragic rates of maternal mortality respect for the right to health and access to medications must not only be spoken about, but also put into action
Geneva (Agenzia Fides) –. The 'shocking' number of 350,000 maternal deaths that continue to occur every year – most especially among the poorest and most marginalized and disenfranchised populations, the 3 million babies that die annually during their first week of life, another 3 million stillborn, the 2.3 million children die who each year during their first year of life, were recalled by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer to the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva at the Maternity Morality Panel of the 14th Session of the Human Rights Council
The Archbishop underlined that improvements to reduce Maternal Mortality have been made possible due to higher per capita income, higher education rates for women and increasing availability of basic medical care, including "skilled birth attendants". "A recent study on Maternal Mortality has suggested that maternal mortality in Africa could be significantly reduced if HIV-positive mothers were given access to antiretroviral medications. The availability of emergency obstetric care, – said Archbishop Tomasi -, including the provision of universal pre and post-natal care, and adequate transport to medical facilities (when necessary), skilled birth attendants, a clean blood supply and a clean water supply, appropriate antibiotics, and the introduction of a minimum age of 18 years for marriage, are all measures that could benefit both mothers and their children.".
The Holy See Representative went on to say" Most importantly, if the international community wishes to effectively reduce the tragic rates of maternal mortality, respect for and promotion of the right to health and of access to medications must not only be spoken about, but also be put into action, by States as well as by non-governmental organizations and by civil society".
The Archbishop concluded his intervention stressing that " policies aimed at combating Maternal Mortality and Child Mortality need to strike a delicate balance between the rights of mother and those of the child, both of whom are rights bearers, the first of which is the right to life. The maternity clinics and hospitals promoted by the Catholic Church do exactly that: they save the lives both of mothers and of child, born and yet-to-be-born. ". (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 16/06/2010)
See in English complete text of the intervention given by the Permanent Observer