IACHR PUBLISHES REPORT ON MATERNAL HEALTH
Washington, D.C., August 2, 2010—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today published its report Access to Maternal Health Services from a Human Rights Perspective. The report analyzes the connection between States' human right obligations and maternal health, with a view to ensuring that all women, especially those who have been marginalized historically, can enjoy effective access to adequate health care during pregnancy and childbirth and in the period immediately following.
The report indicates that protecting women's right to personal integrity in the area of maternal health entails the obligation to guarantee that women have access in conditions of equality to health services related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, as well as to other services and information on reproductive matters throughout their lives.
The right to personal integrity is closely related to the right to health, given that providing adequate and timely maternal health services is one of the most important measures to guarantee women's right to personal integrity. The maternal mortality rate in the Americas comes to 22,680 deaths every year, and the main causes are preventable. Protecting women's right to personal integrity also implies that States have the obligation to guarantee that women can enjoy the right to the highest possible level of physical and mental health without discrimination.
The IACHR notes in the report that a disproportionately high number of women who are poor, indigenous, or of African descent, most of whom live in rural areas, are the ones who most often do not fully enjoy their human rights with respect to maternal health. The IACHR observes that the barriers that limit women's access to these services have to do with structural factors in health services, with laws and policies that regulate these services, and with practices, attitudes, and stereotypes, both within the family and the community as well as among those who work in health-care facilities. In the report, the IACHR recommends that a gender perspective be incorporated into the design and implementation of laws and public policies that affect women who need access to health services.
The report includes recommendations to guarantee the protection of women's right to integrity in access in conditions of equality to maternal health services. The Commission hopes that these recommendations will contribute to efforts by the Sates to protect and promote women's human rights in their access without discrimination to maternal health services.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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