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More Can Be Accomplished In Reducing Maternal Mortality, Morbidity

Noting much has been achieved in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at improving access to antiretroviral treatment and safe drinking water, and reducing poverty, Joy Phumaphi, chair of the Aspen Institute Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, writes in a Thomson Reuters Foundation opinion piece, “But on women’s health, progress lags shamefully behind. … We cannot wait for death to claim our women, newborns and children when the tools and interventions required to save them are affordable and easy to deliver.” She notes, “Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest proportion of unmet need for contraception, the highest maternal mortality ratio, and the highest number of deaths from unsafe abortion.”

Last week at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “and leaders from around the world restated their commitment to maternal and reproductive health,” Phumaphi writes. “This high-level support is necessary and must be accompanied by a robust accountability mechanism at the country level,” she says, adding, “This comprehensive, transparent mechanism must have monitoring, review and response/action processes engaging all stakeholders at every level.” She continues, “This means that the village elders, mothers and fathers and in-laws, aunts and uncles, husbands and brothers are fully engaged with the health system as partners in the health of their women. In the end success will be a product of our own effort and commitment” (9/27).