Maternal, newborn & infant health: A fresh look

There is a movement afoot in Jamaica, one designed to have people look with fresh eyes and through a human rights lens, at the health of women, their newborns and infants.

It is being marshalled by the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre and partners, the University of the West Indies’ Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, with their efforts entailed under the project titled “Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health in Jamaica”.

MNIH Coleman Nov 29
Stakeholders at a November 29 workshop on patients’ rights in Jamaica, held at Alhambra Inn in Kingston. The workshop, hosted under the “Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in #MNIH in Jamaica” project, brought together a variety of actors, toward the promotion of collaboration on the issue of patients’ rights. (Photo: Aldeno Stewart)

THE RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH

There are a range of human rights “directly implicated” by maternal morbidity and mortality, including:

  • the right to life;
  • the right to be free from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment;
  • the right to privacy;
  • the right to an effective remedy;
  • the right to be equal in dignity;
  • the right to education;
  • the right to seek, receive and impart information;
  • the right to freedom from discrimination;
  • the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress; and
  • the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including sexual and reproductive health.

The rights-based approach to MNIH also affirms that maternal, newborn and infant morbidity and mortality cannot be reduced to simply the risk women and teenage girls run when, whether by choice or circumstance, they become pregnant.

Rather, states are obligated to ensure, by virtue of the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including sexual and reproductive health, as one example, that maternal morbidity and mortality is given priority.

IMG_4020 (1)
Advocacy specialist with the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre Linnette Vassell and Professor Wendel Abel of the U.W.I. Department of Community Health and Psychiatry lead a discussion at the November 29 workshop on patients’ rights in Jamaica. (Photo: Aldeno Stewart)

The promotion and protection of this right, according to Paul Hunt and Judith Bueno de Mezquita (2010), “demands actions that lead to a significant and sustained reduction in maternal mortality”.

Those actions include:

  • ensuring access to goods and services, including sexual and reproductive health care and information;
  • breaking down political, economic, social and cultural barriers that women face in accessing the interventions that can prevent maternal mortality; and
  • participation by stakeholders in policy and service development.

“And it requires accountability for maternal mortality,” write Hunt and Bueno de Mezquita.

The WROC/UWI project is intended to spotlight these rights when it comes to #MNIH in Jamaica. This is with the goals to

  • strengthen patients’ rights in #MNIH among members of the vulnerable population and other stakeholders, and
  • enhance the capacity of civil society organisations to become involved in patients’ rights advocacy and health policy planning and monitoring, in relation to #MNIH.

The project team is working to realise those objectives through a variety of activities, including stakeholder consultations, the development of an advocacy plan and toolkit, and the development of curricula and training manuals, together with a public education and awareness campaign.

The 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, meanwhile, has adopted the resolution on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights.

In that resolution, the Council urged all states “to renew their political commitment to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity at the local, national, regional and international levels; and to strengthen their efforts to address multiple and intersecting inequalities and to remove all barriers” to access to sexual and reproductive health facilities, etc..

This, in order “to ensure full and effective implementation of their human rights obligations”, and their commitments to, for example, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development  and the Sustainable Development Goals.

With some 216,000 per 100,000 women dying globally each year; 43 children under 5 per 1,000 and 19 per 1,000 newborns, it is past time that we stepped up those efforts.

Sources:

 

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One thought on “Maternal, newborn & infant health: A fresh look

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  1. Reblogged this on Petchary's Blog and commented:
    The Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC), a community-based NGO, has been working steadily on several important projects in the past year. As I have noted before, Jamaica failed to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals related to maternal health and infant mortality (specifically, #5 – “reducing maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health” and #4 – “reducing infant mortality”). These are obviously closely related. The EU-funded PROMAC program takes a human rights approach to the issue through the Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights JA (you can find them on Facebook at Promac Mohja and on Twitter @HealthRightsJa). Here is more! And do follow Petre W. Raynor’s blog!

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