Yesterday, April 11, 2018, was International Maternal Health and Rights Day. This day has been set aside to recognize that every person has the right to receive high quality, respectful care before, during and after their pregnancies. People all around the world, in Majority countries as well as developed countries, have room for improvement when it comes to both clinical outcomes and treatment of people during their childbearing year.
Despite ongoing efforts to change how people are treated, the following abuses are consistently observed. This treatment affects outcomes for parents and babies. The compiled list shows the type of abuse along with the corresponding right that a person should expect and deserves.
In order to draw attention to this topic, many international organizations have banded together to increase global awareness of current treatment and request that changes be implemented to ensure that all people receive safe and appropriate clinical care and are treated with respect during their pregnancies, births and postpartum periods. Ensuring this right as part of maternal health care practices is critical to improving both childbearing experiences and clinical outcomes.
Signatures are being collected right now to politely request that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency António Guterres declare April 11th as the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights and put this event on the United Nations annual calendar. Maternal health advocates, researchers, providers and paraprofessionals are committed to ending human rights abuses and promoting skilled and dignified care. Together with the UN community, everyone working together can make comprehensive, respectful, and rights-based maternal health care available for all. Please sign the petition here.
In 2018, over 300,000 people died in pregnancy, birth or the postpartum period. That is over 800 people *every single day*.
Many people have limited or no access to family planning clinics to prevent pregnancy if desired. For adolescent girls ages 15 to 19 years old, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death. Maintaining the current momentum is not enough to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for maternal mortality reduction, let alone bring an end to all preventable maternal deaths and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health for women and girls. In fact, recent gains in progress have started to plateau in some countries and slide backward in others.
Transforming this picture begins with asking those who are most affected. When those most at risk are involved in identifying the barriers and solutions to quality health care, progress accelerates. In order to achieve this goal, the What Women Want (WWW) campaign was launched on April 11th to coincide with International Maternal Health and Rights Day. The What Women Want campaign is asking women and girls around the globe what their top priority is for quality maternal and reproductive healthcare. The goal is to receive over 1,000,000 responses from every corner of the globe, urban, rural, every continent, every country!
All the answers received through December 2018 will be tabulated and requests and programs will be implemented according to the responses received. Women’s and girls’ voices must be heard. Working together, programs can ensure quality, equitable and dignified care for every woman and every girl, everywhere. A detailed advocacy agenda will be created to realize the healthcare demands of women and girls around the world. Join the movement at What Women Want, take the survey and help save lives. Sharing this request for information with your community and responding yourself will help organizers develop a clear plan of action. The one question survey is available in many different languages and if you can help translate into other languages, please contact the survey admins.
There are some thoughtful essays on the topic of respectful maternity care representing five different professionals' perspectives. You may enjoy the diverse opinions you will find here.
It is time for the global population to recognize that people have the right to respectful care, access and information to family planning, safe and appropriate clinical care and information for the shared decision-making process to work. The International Maternal Health and Rights Day is a good start. Listening to the voices of people about their top priority for this care is great! These movements need your support by signing the petition and sharing the survey! Will you help?