Washington, DC– Stubbornly high maternal mortality rates ought to cause worldwide outrage and bring charges of human rights abuse, according to speakers at a bipartisan briefing on Capitol Hill today.
Eight members of Congress sponsored the luncheon session for congressional staff members and health policy advocates, along with CARE USA, the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and Women's Policy Inc. Speakers said greatly increased global investment is urgently required toward achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to women's and children's health.
"No woman anywhere in the world today should die while giving birth solely because she did not have access to the lifesaving care most of us take for granted," said Theresa Shaver, executive director of the White Ribbon Alliance.
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) said she would introduce legislation to increase U.S. funding for maternal and newborn health care and to label high rates of maternal mortality as a human rights violation. "Maternal mortality is the single greatest health indicator of the failure of governments to meet the basic needs of society's poorest and most vulnerable women," she said.
Dr. Helene Gayle, president and chief executive officer of CARE USA, called on the U.S. government to lead the fight against the poverty, discrimination and malnutrition that are the root causes of most maternal deaths. She described CARE’s work with 25 local groups in Peru to pass legislation mandating primary education for girls. "We can't just build a school—we must work for the right of girls to be educated," she said.
Aparajita Gogoi of the White Ribbon Alliance said current rates of global investment will doom the MDG of reducing maternal deaths by 75 percent by 2015. Deborah Armbruster of PATH described the organization's efforts to cut such deaths in India through mobilizing communities to create networks of health workers, skilled birth attendants and savings plans.
In addition to Rep. Capps, Members of Congress sponsoring the briefing included Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Judy Biggert (R-IL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL),and Hilda Solis (D-CA).
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Congresswoman Lois Capps. You can write Congresswoman Capps on her website and thank her for her leadership on saving women’s lives worldwide.
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