HIV, Maternal Mortality Link Demands Re-vamped US Policy
WASHINGTON, DC, April 14, 2010 - Further progress in reducing the global maternal
mortality ratio cannot be achieved without an aggressive shift in the U.S. approach to global
health policy, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) announced today. While the
overall global maternal mortality ratio has decreased according to a new study released yesterday
in the Lancet, HIV is responsible for more than 60,000 maternal deaths each year. The data
confirms the link between HIV and maternal mortality, and corroborates the necessity for
comprehensive health programs that integrate HIV interventions and maternal health care.
"Smart U.S. foreign policy investments must address HIV and maternal health with
integrated and coordinated programming," said Serra Sippel, president of CHANGE. "Anyone
accessing HIV treatment must also have access to voluntary family planning and other
reproductive health services, such as family planning, pre-natal care, cancer screening and
treatment, and safe abortion services. Currently, HIV, maternal health, and family planning are
funded, programmed, and evaluated separately, which ultimately pits the issues against each
other. Given the recent research results, this approach also limits program effectiveness."
Reducing the maternal mortality ratio means honestly confronting the reality of illness,
health care and those who access it.
Effective U.S. global health policy must be:
Integrated and coordinated: Illness does not recognize programmatic divisions.
Woman-centered: Stemming global health epidemics depends on addressing the disparate
conditions that put women at higher risk for poor health.
Multi-sectoral: Poverty alleviation, education promotion, food provision, housing
support, job creation and training, and environmental protection all contribute to positive
Human rights-based: Health programs must respect individuals' autonomy and agency,
ensuring that services are provided free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Accessible: Health services must be youth-friendly, and financially and physically
The Obama Administration has indicated a move towards policy that meets the above criteria
through the introduction of the Global Health Initiative (GHI). The GHI identifies program
integration and a woman-centered approach as guiding principles. The U.S. has the opportunity
to significantly reduce the maternal mortality rate through the GHI, but it needs to assure the
initiative is adequately funded and coordinated among agencies.
For additional analysis, see "Obama's Global Health Initiative: Getting It Right The First
Time Around," by CHANGE President Serra Sippel. http://huff.to/a4nFLV
About the Center for Health and Gender Equity
The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) is a US-based non-governmental
organization that seeks to ensure that U.S. international policies and programs promote sexual
and reproductive health and rights through effective, evidence-based approaches to prevention
and treatment of critical reproductive and sexual health concerns, and through increased funding
for critical international programs and institutions. For more information, visit www.genderhealth.org
Reproduced with permission - "Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)"
Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)