Procedure : 2008/2621(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B6-0385/2008

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 03/09/2008 - 15
CRE 03/09/2008 - 15

Votes :

PV 04/09/2008 - 7.5
CRE 04/09/2008 - 7.5

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B6-0377/2008
1 September 2008
to wind up the debate on statements by the Council and Commission
pursuant to Rule 103(2) of the Rules of Procedure
by Colm Burke, John Bowis, Carlo Casini, Nirj Deva and Filip Kaczmarek
on behalf of the PPE-DE Group
on Millennium Development Goal 5 (maternal health)

European Parliament resolution on Millennium Development Goal 5 (maternal health) 

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 on maternal health, which aims to ‘reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio’ and to ‘achieve universal access to reproductive health’,

–  having regard to the EU Programme for Action to Confront HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria through External Action(1),

–  having regard to the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1959, according to which ‘special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care’, and to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989, whereby signatory States shall ‘ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers’,

–  having regard to the European Consensus for Development of 22 November 2005(2), according to which ‘the primary and overarching objective of EU development cooperation is the eradication of poverty in the context of sustainable development, including pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals’,

–  having regard to the high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals due to take place at the UN headquarters in New York on 25 September 2008,

–  having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas maternal health is the area where the least progress is being made among all the MDGs and whereas MDG 5 is therefore among the goals least likely to be achieved by 2015, in particular in sub-Saharan placeAfrica,

B.  whereas complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death and disability among women in developing countries, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, claiming the lives of more than half a million women each year,

C.  whereas most of these deaths could be prevented by healthcare interventions (according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the main factors in reducing maternal mortality are the presence of skilled birth attendants and access to emergency obstetric care), but distance and poverty limit access to maternal health for many women in developing countries,

D.  whereas maternal deaths and disabilities lower family income, result in a vast number of orphans, who are particularly vulnerable to disease and poverty, and force young girls out of school to raise their siblings,

E.  whereas some 60% of HIV-infected adults are women, and HIV/AIDS and malaria are among the major causes of maternal death; whereas HIV can be transmitted from a mother to her child during pregnancy, labour and delivery or breast-feeding,

F.  whereas HIV/AIDS has also had very damaging effects on the health sector in developing countries, as a result not only of health workers being infected but also of health personnel and funds being taken from other essential health services to address increasing needs in HIV/AIDS services,

G.  whereas empowering women by ensuring full access to sexual and reproductive health information and supplies puts them in a better position to negotiate safe sex and protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV; whereas the measures proposed by the Commission to protect women from STDs, especially financial support for the development of microbicides and vaccines and the proposed measures relating to reproductive health, are to be supported,

H.  having regard to the particular problem of women, many of them young and without easy access to reproductive health services, who develop obstetric fistula as a result of unrelieved obstructed labour, which – if not treated – leads to miserable health conditions and social stigmatisation,

placeI.  whereas fistula and other diseases of the reproductive organs are a serious health problem in many developing countries,

J.  whereas geography, economy and education are determining factors in the incidence of maternal deaths, with rural women, poor women and women lacking in education suffering the highest rates of maternal death,

K.  whereas the European Union has an important role to play in providing and supporting an international response to maternal health challenges,

1.  Calls on developing countries to make maternal health a priority in their poverty reduction strategies; calls on the EU and the international community to stress this area in their cooperation with developing countries and to give increased economic, political and technical support to such efforts;

2.  Recalls and reiterates the EU commitment and contribution to the Millennium Development Goals as expressed in the European Consensus for Development;

3.  Recalls the commitment of the EU Member States to reaching 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2015 and calls on Member States not currently on track to increase their efforts;

4.  Calls on the EU to sustain and increase its efforts to improve maternal health in developing countries, particularly in terms of providing access to safe and reliable maternal health care and services, combating poverty diseases and addressing health‑sector bottlenecks such as the lack of qualified health workers;

5.  Calls for a scaling up of national health programmes of HIV testing prior to and during pregnancy, antiretroviral treatment for HIV-positive pregnant women and HIV prevention measures such as information campaigns and education;

6.  Calls for further measures to combat malaria, inter alia through increased use of insecticide-treated bed nets,

7.  Calls for maternal health strategies not to be limited to fighting the major poverty diseases but also to pay due attention to the plight of a large number of women suffering from fistula and other lesser-known poverty diseases;

8.  Calls on those countries that have not yet introduced a ban on harmful practices and traditions such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to take action and to support information campaigns to this end;

9.  Calls on developing countries, with the support of the international community, also to take a horizontal approach to maternal health challenges so that increased development efforts go into the creation of sustainable growth, improvements in infrastructure and access to water and sanitation and other areas that affect the incidence of these challenges;

10.  Calls for particular attention to be given to measures improving domestic hygiene and the use of soap – according to some studies even more effective than improving water quality in reducing the risk of diarrhoeal diseases – as such diseases can be deadly, and expectant and nursing mothers are particularly vulnerable to them;

11.  Calls for increased measures to tackle respiratory health problems stemming from the lack of ventilation for heating and cooking stoves, which are particularly detrimental to maternal health,

12.  Calls on developing countries to put greater emphasis on primary education, in particular for girls from rural areas, who are the least likely to be provided with opportunities to attend school, in their development strategies; calls on the EU and the international community to give further support to such efforts;

13.  Underlines the need for EU and international support for regional cooperation to promote maternal health care skill-sharing, training and capacity-building, comparison of best practices and pooling of resources; stresses that such cooperation can be particularly useful in addressing difficult health situations in post-conflict or post-catastrophe situations;

14.  Urges the Commission to make the fight against sexual violence a priority in crisis and conflict areas, in the humanitarian phase as well as in post-war reconstruction;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the placePlaceNameMemberPlaceType States, the governments and parliaments of all developing countries and the UN Secretary-General.

(1) COM(2005)179.
(2) Council of the European Union 14820/05.

Last updated: 2 September 2008Legal notice