Latin America and the Carribean: challenges and progress in improving RMNCH
22 - 24 October 2012 | Antigua, Guatemala - Convened by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), representatives from the six countries of Latin America and the Caribbean which are part of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health - Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Haiti and Peru - gathered in Guatemala for a regional RMNCH accountability meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to Strengthen Information and Accountability by developing a plan of action to implement the recommendations of the COIA in each country, using the tool developed by WHO. Carmen Barroso was invited to make a presentation on the work of the iERG. She focused on findings of the iERG related to three recommendations of the COIA which she considered particularly relevant for the region.
She also was a key note speaker at the celebration of UN day at the Presidential Palace when the Government of Guatemala signed a commitment to accountability for women’s health, where she highlighted four reasons for progress towards reducing maternal mortality being so slow: huge social, ethnic and economic inequalities which are still not adequately addressed by social and economic policies; neglect of the needs of young women, especially comprehensive sexuality education, due to persistent cultural barriers; refusal to tackle the burden of avoidable deaths due to unsafe abortion; and the meager resources devoted to reproductive and maternal health in particular and health systems in general.
The participants of the Antigua meeting, which also included representatives of civil society and UN agencies, passed an unanimous resolution asking the Regional Working Group on Maternal Health to prepare a key module on Human Rights, to be added to the WHO tool, for use in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, and recommended to WHO for adoption in all regions. Their resolution specifies that the module should include indicators of equity, non-discrimination, informed consent and efficacy of mechanisms for redress of violations of human rights, according to the Technical guidance on Human Rights and Maternal Health, recently issued by the Human Rights Council.