Cover Image
close this bookReducing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity (UNFPA, 1998, 22 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDATA CARD
View the documentFOREWORD
View the documentLIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
View the documentI. BACKGROUND
View the documentII. UNFPA AND THE SAFE MOTHERHOOD INITIATIVE
Open this folder and view contentsIII. SAFE MOTHERHOOD IN THE CONTEXT OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
View the documentIV. CONCLUSION
View the documentREFERENCES

FOREWORD

In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) highlighted and defined the concept of reproductive health and reproductive rights, developing a Programme of Action making reproductive health the centrepiece of population activities. The definition of reproductive health encompasses the concept of safe motherhood and recognizes that, in many parts of the developing world, complications of pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of mortality for women of reproductive age.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) assistance for programmes to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality is based on the agreed-upon goals and objectives of the ICPD Programme of Action for the next 20 years. Maternal mortality is, therefore, one of the indicators by which countries are assessed for level of assistance: the greater the discrepancy between the actual levels and the stated goals for maternal mortality, the higher the level of assistance.

UNFPA holds that motherhood cannot be safe until women are allowed to be more than mothers and that pregnancy must be seen in the context of a woman’s entire existence: although pregnancy is part of a woman’s life, a woman’s life should not be defined by her pregnancies. When women are properly valued for all that they do, then and only then will their role as mothers be respected and the resources found to protect their lives and health. Women should be respected as mothers, but first they should be respected as women.

Safe motherhood begins in childhood. If she is to realize her potential as a woman, the girl child needs protection and care from the time she is born. Too many young women grow to adulthood without proper nourishment or health care, or the education which would allow them to have the same status and opportunities as men. Girls and young women need an appropriate physical, intellectual and emotional environment to prepare them for adulthood. All women need access to voluntary family planning information and services to enable them to choose if and when to have a pregnancy. Women have a right to choose to avoid becoming pregnant too early, too often, or to go on having children late in life.

The ICPD Programme of Action contains a detailed and well-considered chapter on what it would take to ensure safe motherhood. Three years after the ICPD, the Technical Consultation on Safe Motherhood, held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in October 1997, addressed the problem. Recognizing the lack of global progress in reducing maternal mortality levels since the inception of the Safe Motherhood Initiative in 1987, the Consultation identified 10 interventions known to reduce maternal mortality: establishing maternal health and survival as a human right, recognizing maternal health information and services as vital economic and social investments, empowering women and ensuring choices, delaying marriage and first birth, designing programmes based on the recognition that every pregnancy faces risks, ensuring the presence of skilled attendants at delivery, improving access to quality maternal health services, addressing unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion, measuring progress and working in partnerships. These actions constitute the way forward.

Mohammad Nizamuddin
Director
Technical and Policy Division
United Nations Population Fund