Mother’s Day: The EU must recognize global health as a human rights issue!


Amnesty International EU Office Press Release

Mother’s Day: The EU must recognize global health as a human rights issue!

(Brussels, 6 May) In the run-up to this year’s Mother’s Day, Amnesty International wants to capture the attention of EU leaders to the need of improving maternal health worldwide. With Council conclusions on the European Commission’s Communication on Global Health expected a few days later, Amnesty International urges the EU to address the concept of global health as a human rights issue, which is so far not properly included in the Commission’s Communication.

The communication should serve as a building block for a common EU position ahead of the 2010 UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in September by creating an approach where human rights are placed at the centre. This is especially true when it comes to the achievement of MDG 5, reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health. More than half a million women die needlessly while giving life each year, with 99% of the deaths occurring in the developing world.

Advancement has been limited due to multiple and grave human rights violations such as gender discrimination, female genital mutilation, unsafe abortions, forced and child marriages and sexual violence. Amnesty International is therefore adamant that the EU should take into account the specific barriers faced by women and girls in accessing health care and promote their sexual and reproductive rights, including their right to access voluntary, safe and effective family planning and contraceptive services.

Progress on the MDGs is linked to progress of human rights around the world. The EU must address the underlying human rights violations which hinder the right to health. This would ensure that the underlying causes of poverty, such as discrimination, are taken into account and that the most vulnerable groups in society are prioritized,” says Nicolas Beger, the director of Amnesty International’s EU office.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution in 2008 which expressed strong concern over the lack of progress in reducing maternal mortality worldwide but few concrete actions have been taken since then. The EU must do more to ensure that maternal healthcare facilities are accessible, acceptable and of good quality. The best way of accomplishing this is to establish an effective monitoring and accountability mechanism that guarantees the highest attainable standard of health both within and outside the EU.

The European Union should address health from a human rights perspective not only to improve maternal health but to eradicate the underlying human rights violations. This can only be achieved by fighting gender discrimination, ensuring universal access to health care for all, especially for the most vulnerable and providing effective remedies and reparations for violations,” concludes Beger.

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
Tel: 32-2-5021499/32 -2 – 548 2773
Email: [email protected]

Amnesty International is running a Europe-wide campaign to protect the rights of women and girls living with, or at risk of, female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is a human rights violation that prevents the achievement of a number of MDGs.
To read “Ending female genital mutilation to promote the achievement of the millennium goals” please click here.