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White Ribbon Alliance Calls for Investments to Save Women's Lives Lost in Pregnancy and Childbirth

Joins with Maternal Health Champions on Capitol Hill to Ask U.S. to Meet Obligations to World's Poorest Nations

WASHINGTON, April 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood today took its call for world leaders to invest in women's health to Capitol Hill. Citing recent reports that the UN Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 is unlikely to be met in Asia until 2076 and many years later in Africa, they were joined by Congressional leaders who appealed for stronger participation by the US in global efforts to strengthen women's access to quality health care, underscoring that 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing nations and jeopardize progress to reduce infant mortality and eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

"All of us would be hard-pressed to think of a tragedy more devastating than a woman dying in childbirth," said Lois Capps, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. "As a public health nurse who worked closely with young mothers and their families, I know too well that the loss of a mother shatters her family and threatens the well-being of her surviving children."

"Maternal mortality is the single greatest health indicator of the failure of governments to meet the basic needs of society's poorest and most vulnerable women," continued Capps. "All nations bear responsibility for women dying needlessly in childbirth and must meet our obligations to assist the governments without adequate resources to invest in women's health."

Experts estimate a package of maternal health services costing less than US$1.50 per person could make significant improvements in women's health in the 75 countries where 95% of maternal and child deaths occur. Yet, funding for family planning and reproductive health has declined since the mid-1990s, especially if HIV/AIDS money is excluded. Aid to the least developed countries has essentially stalled since 2003. Only five governments - Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden - have met the UN target for foreign assistance of 0.7 percent of GNP.

"No woman anywhere in the world today should die while giving birth solely because she did not have access to the lifesaving care most of us take for granted," said Theresa Shaver, White Ribbon Alliance Executive Director. "Whether in Bangladesh or the Bronx, where there is the political will to invest in health care systems to provide quality obstetric and emergency care, almost all women live through the complications that would otherwise kill them."

The White Ribbon Alliance is leading a global campaign - A Promise to Mothers Lost: Healthy Pregnancy and Safe Childbirth for All - to hold world leaders to account for the tragedy of maternal mortality during the upcoming meetings of the World Economic Forum in South Africa, G8 Summit in Japan and the UN Call to Action in New York.

Contact: Deborah Clark, Communications Director

White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, 202-679-2399

SOURCE White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood
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