Health and Human Rights: The case of Maternal and Child Health

29 SEPTEMBER 2010 | GENEVA

Health + Human Rights: The case of Maternal and Child Health
29 Sept 2010 - Health + Human Rights: The case of Maternal and Child Health, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Organizer: Permanent Mission of Burkina Faso, Permanent Mission of Colombia, Permanent Mission of Italy, Permanent Mission of New Zealand, World Health Organization, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Event dates: 29 September 2010, 1.30 to 3.00 p.m
Venue: Geneva, Palais des Nations, room XXII


29 SEPTEMBER 2010 | GENEVA – A Side Event at the UN Commission on Human Rights - Health and Human Rights: the case of Maternal and Child Health –focused on “Health as Human Right” and advancing commitments on maternal and child health. The Event was also the venue for the introduction of a new maternal Initiative -- Women Create Life.

The official Side Event was organized by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, the World Health Organization and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Burkina Faso, Colombia and New Zealand. The event was attended by Permanent Representatives to United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva, EU Health and Human Rights focal points, financial experts, WHO and UN health and human rights experts.

The Event was championed by H.E. Ms Laura Mirachian, Ambassador of Permanent Mission of Italy who underlined the common aim of the session – to discuss the strong connection between maternal health and human rights as a crucial component of social justice.

Madame Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mde Pillay reported on the study on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights pursuant to the Human Rights Council Resolution 11/8 which intends to identify the human rights dimension of the problem in the existing international legal framework. (see link below)

Dr Flavia Bustreo, Director of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH)

Dr Bustreo presented the United Nations' Secretary-General Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health launched by Ban Ki-moon on 22 September 2010 in New York at the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Summit. She traced the path leading to the final draft of the document, in which PMNCH played a crucial role providing the platform to facilitate agreement among different stakeholders including: governments, international and non-governmental organization, the private sector, foundations, constituency groups and advocates. The result is a joint, world-wide action to achieve MDGs 4 and 5 through enhanced financing, strengthened policy and improved service delivery.

Dr Bustreo pointed out that The Global Strategy has found strong support, not only from States, but also from members of civil society, foundations and private sector stakeholders. She discussed some specific and realistic commitments in the Commitments document, such as those from China, Nigeria and the company, Johnson and Johnson. Dr Bustreo concluded that additional contributions of financial, human and organizational resources are needed and that all the stakeholders are encouraged to make new commitments and mobilize new resource and technologies, such as has been done with Mobile telephones.

A leading role during the Event was played by Burkina Faso represented by H.E. Ambassador Prosper Vokouma, Colombia represented by H.E. Ambassador Alicia Victoria Arango Olmos and New Zealand, represented by Deputy Permanent Representative Mrs Wendy Hinton. The three countries have been working for a resolution on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity (MMM) and Human Rights to address preventable maternal mortality and morbidity under a human rights perspective and to promote discussion on what further action Human Right Council can take to reduce women's deaths and disability related to pregnancy and child birth.

Burkina Faso, Colombia and New Zealand underlined how addressing maternal health represents a priority in their policies and emphasized their commitment to make it become a priority also within the Human Rights Council. The aim is allowing women to give birth without losing their or their children's life. This is not only a health issue, but it is a human right and the Council has the duty to protect and uphold this every woman right. The Resolution 11/8 approved by the Council in June 2009 was the first ever Human Rights Council Resolution addressing preventable mortality and morbidity and reflected the will of the Council to play a significant role in addressing this issue. With this second resolution drafted by Burkina Faso, Colombia, New Zealand and strongly supported by Italy, the Council is asked to compile an analytical report on good practices that incorporate a human rights perspective to the efforts aimed at the elimination of preventable mortality and morbidity.

In the end, Dr Mario Merialdi, Coordinator for Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) WHO Department presented the innovative financing mechanism of Women Create Life. RHR, PMNCH and Italy developed this initiative of Women Create Life as response to the global call to commitments on maternal and child health, in a moment in which alternative financing mechanisms assume a critical importance as mean of resources mobilization to maintain and expand funding for international aid.

Women Create Life is a combined mechanism of financing and advocacy which uses the Italian art, design and consumers-market to generate awareness and resources to improve the health of women and children worldwide. The aim is to create new funds and to change the stereotypical representation of underprivileged women as pas¬sive victims of circumstances and to paint the image of a woman who not only gives birth to babies, but also generates the conditions that promote life and development of their communities, thus contributing to global health.

Women Create Life is a new bottom-up marked oriented strategy which will involve NGOs, the social network platforms and the private sector to spread its message and to reach its achievements.

From the floor different and interesting inputs came. Many participants reiterated the request to the Council to address the right to health as referred to specific populations, namely migrants and displaced people and to pay attention also to sexual and reproductive health, contraception and family planning strategies. They also underlined the necessity to pay attention to child morbidity and mortality as well. It is impossible to address women and children separately, because they are inseparably linked in health care needs.

A wide consensus was given to the Global Strategy and specifically to the accountability mechanisms. The request of additional commitments was well received by different countries who attended the meeting.

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