New York: G8 development ministers should take a strong stand on fulfilling the global promise to reduce maternal and child mortality and eliminate health disparities among nations and communities, Human Rights Watch has said.
This has been stated in a letter to the Canadian government as development ministers gather in Halifax this week to lay the foundation for the June 2010 G8 meeting.
Human Rights Watch said Canada`s pledge to make maternal and child health a G8 priority was a positive sign.
Canada and all G8 countries should work to reduce disparities in access to sexual and reproductive health care and to promote health system accountability, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, and increased health system financing.
"The G8 governments should make this year`s summit a turning point on global maternal and child health," said Liesl Gerntholtz, women`s rights director at Human Rights Watch. "For far too long, governments have neglected basic health system reforms, with devastating results for countless families."
A study recently published in the medical journal The Lancet found that almost 343,000 women and girls around the world are estimated to have died in 2008 from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, the majority of which are preventable.
Many countries do not have functioning accountability systems for health care, Human Rights Watch said.
Accountability mechanisms enable patients and families to lodge complaints when they are mistreated in health care settings, and can enable health officials to identify and fix system-wide failings.
Accountability also includes monitoring and gathering health data, such as by recording births and deaths and investigating maternal deaths.
"Governments seem to throw up their hands about maternal deaths, as if there is nothing they can do," Gerntholtz said. "But some simple things, starting with tracking deaths and figuring out what caused them, would go a long way toward fixing fatal health system problems."