Procedure : 2008/2621(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B6-0388/2008

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
to wind up the debate on the statement by the Council
pursuant to Rule 103(2) of the Rules of Procedure
by Beniamino Donnici, Toomas Savi, Renate Weber and Sophia in 't Veld
on behalf of the ALDE Group
on maternal mortality ahead of the UN High Level Event, 25 September - review of the Millennium Development Goals

European Parliament resolution on maternal mortality ahead of the UN High Level Event, 25 September - review of the Millennium Development Goals 

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to the Millennium Development Goals adopted at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000,

-  having regard to the Commission Report on the Millennium Development Goals 2000-2004 (SEC(2004)1379),

-  having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the PersonNameBrussels European Council of 16 and 17 December 2004, confirming the full commitment of the European Union to the Millennium Development Goals and to policy coherence,

-  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council - Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation (SEC(2007) 332),

-  having regard to the resolution of Parliament of 13 March 2008 on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Cooperation (2007/2182(INI)),

-  having regard to the resolutions of Parliament of 12 April 2005 on the role of the European Union in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and of 20 June 2007 on 'the Millennium Development Goals – the midway point',

-  having regard to its resolutions of 17 November 2005 on a development strategy for placeAfrica and of 25 October 2007 on the state of play of EU-Africa relations,

-  having regard to the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995 and the Declaration and Platform for Action adopted there, as well as to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the UN's Beijing +5 and Beijing +10 Special Sessions on further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, adopted respectively on 9 June 2000 and 11 March 2005,

-  having regard to the joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on European Union Development Policy, 'The European Consensus' (The European Consensus on Development), signed on 20 December 2005, and to the European consensus on Humanitarian Aid of December 2007,

-  having regard to the UN Population Fund's State of World Population reports of 2005 and 2006, entitled 'The Promise of Equality: Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals' and 'A Passage to Hope: Women and International Migration', respectively,

-  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation ('Development Cooperation Instrument' (DCI)),

-  having regard to the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, also known as the 'Maputo Protocol', which came into force on 26 October 2005, and to the Maputo Plan of Action for the operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010, adopted at the special session of the African Union in September 2006,

-  having regard to the UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in September 1994, the Programme of Action adopted in Cairo, and the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the UN Cairo+5 special session on further actions to implement the Programme for Action adopted in 1999,

-  having regard to the PersonNameBrussels framework for action and the recommendations on health for sustainable development, adopted by the health ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) in PersonNameBrussels in October 2007,

-  having regard to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which entered into force on 3 January 1976, and in particular its Article 12,

-  having regard to Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No 14, The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, UN Doc. E/C 12/2000/4 (2000).

-  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 3 September 1981,

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

A.  whereas maternal mortality is the MDG that has fallen furthest adrift of its target, namely a 75% cut in the maternal mortality rate by 2015, to which 186 countries have committed themselves,

B.  whereas over half a million women die in pregnancy or childbirth every year, and 99% of these deaths take place in developing countries; whereas in 20 years, the rate in sub-Saharan Africa has barely budged - one in every 16 women dies in childbirth; whereas, therefore, maternal mortality is the most dramatic health inequality on the planet - more stark even than child mortality,

C.  whereas the G8 has agreed a package on health that will help train and recruit 1.5 million health workers in Africa and ensure that 80% of mothers are accompanied in childbirth by a trained health worker; whereas this includes a commitment to upscale to 2.3 health workers per 1000 people in 36 African countries experiencing a critical shortage; whereas, however, there is no mention of ring-fencing the USD 10 billion which civil society activists claim would be required to save the lives of six million mothers and children each year,

D.  whereas maternal mortality and morbidity constitute a global health emergency, each year there are around 536 000 maternal deaths, and for every woman who dies, 30 or more experience serious complications, ranging from chronic infections to disabling injuries such as obstetric fistula, which could be easily avoided if there were universal access to basic and emergency obstetric care and reproductive health services,

E.  whereas preventable maternal deaths constitute violations of the right to life of women and adolescent girls, and the causes of maternal mortality and morbidity can also amount to violations of other human rights, including the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health care and the right to non-discrimination in access to basic health care;

F.  whereas the right to life is laid down in Article 3 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; the right to life does not only mean that governments should refrain from arbitrary killings, but also entails the duty of governments to protect citizens from preventable loss of life, including, specifically, maternal death,

G.  whereas another basic human right is the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health care as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; access to high-quality health care is crucial to reducing maternal mortality including pre- and post-natal care, presence of trained attendants at birth, emergency obstetric care and family planning,

H.  whereas the right to sexual and reproductive self-determination includes the right to marry, to form a family and to enter into sexual relationships voluntarily, and the right to freedom from sexual violence and coercion,

I.  whereas women have the right to non-discrimination in the field of health care, yet the scale of maternal death and disability across the world reflects a serious problem of systematic inequality and discrimination suffered by women throughout their lives,

J.  whereas women are particularly vulnerable during pregnancy or childbirth because of several forms of discrimination, including disparities between men and women in the household, traditional practices that are harmful to women, violence against women and rejection of female babies; whereas the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which all EU Member States have ratified, states that governments must work actively to 'modify social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women' and specifically 'ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period',

K.  whereas the UN General Assembly has included 'universal access to reproductive health care by 2015' as a sub-goal in the list of MDGs under MDG5 - Maternal Mortality,

L.  whereas the international community at the International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) pledged new resources, identifying 'reproductive health' (including family planning and maternal health services) as a central priority for international development efforts,

M.  whereas rather than support being increased, total donor funding for family planning is now far lower than it was in 1994, having fallen from USD 723 million in 1995 to USD 442 million in 2004 in absolute dollar terms,

N.  whereas the causes of maternal mortality could be avoided by the provision of safe maternal care; whereas additional causes of maternal mortality can include delays in reaching an appropriate facility for reasons of distance, infrastructure and transport: on arrival at a facility there can be delays in receiving adequate care due to staff shortages, or because electricity, water or medical supplies are not available,

O.  whereas it is the responsibility of government to provide (itself or through other actors) health care services under the right to health,

P.  whereas despite the gravity of this problem and the violation of human rights, maternal health services have remained low on the international agenda, overshadowed by attention to disease-specific interventions, and high HIV rates have contributed to stagnating or deteriorating progress towards reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity,

Q.  whereas there is a low level of awareness amongst women and men in affected countries about maternal health rights, which is preventing them from demanding their right to better care and services,

1.  Expresses strong concern that the Maternal Mortality MDG has fallen furthest adrift of its target in many developing countries, particularly in placeAfrica;

2.  Notes that alongside education, the empowerment of women significantly contributes to the improvement of MDG 5, which is a critical indicator of overall progress in development;

3.  Calls on the Council and Commission, ahead of the UN High Level Meeting on the MDGs, to prioritise action to meet MDG 5 (improving maternal health);

4.  Calls on the Council and Commission to reduce the disparity between maternal mortality rates in industrialised and developing countries, through increased investment and action to improve human resources for health, and greater resources and commitment in order to strengthen health systems and basic health infrastructure, including allocations for monitoring, supervision, basic public health functions, community action and other necessary support functions;

5.  Calls on the Council and Commission to intensify efforts to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, through developing, implementing, and regularly evaluating 'road maps' and action plans for the reduction of the global burden of maternal mortality and morbidity, and adopting an equity-based, systematic and sustained human rights-based approach, adequately supported and facilitated by strong institutional mechanisms and financing;

6.  Calls on the Council and Commission to expand the provision of maternal health services in the context of primary health care, based on the concept of informed choice, education on safe motherhood, focused and effective prenatal care, maternal nutrition programmes, adequate delivery assistance that avoids excessive recourse to caesarean sections and provides for obstetric emergencies, referral services for pregnancy, childbirth and abortion complications, post-natal care and family planning;

7.  Calls on the Council and Commission to promote access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services and to ensure that these services are of a high standard and are well-funded;

8.  Calls on the Council and Commission to develop indicators and benchmarks for reducing maternal mortality (including ODA allocations) and to establish monitoring and accountability mechanisms that could lead to the constant improvement of the existing policies and programs;

9.  Calls on the Council and Commission to ensure the collection of reliable and timely data to guide implementation for addressing maternal mortality and morbidity;

10.  Calls on the Council and Commission to provide training, capacity-building and infrastructure for an adequate number of skilled birth attendants. to ensure access to such attendants for all pregnant women and girls, and to ensure that 'road maps' and national action plans reflect this target;

11.  Calls on the Council and Commission, where abortions are legal, to ensure the provision of safe and accessible abortion services to the fullest extent of the local law, and in so doing, train and equip health-service providers in the provision of comprehensive and safe abortion and care services; in this regard, endorses the Council of Europe resolution (17 April 2008) on safe and legal abortions,

12.  Condemns the US's 'global gag rule' which prevents foreign NGOs that receive USAID (United States Agency for International Development) family planning funding from using their own, non-US funds to provide legal abortion services, medical counselling or abortion referrals,

13.  Calls on the Council and Commission to develop programmes and policies to address the underlying determinants of health that are essential to prevent maternal mortality, such as participation in health-related decision-making processes, information on sexual and reproductive health, literacy, nutrition, non-discrimination and gender equality;

14.  Calls on the Council and Commission to provide a forum to share best practices on maternal mortality programmes and policies;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments of the PlaceNameplaceMemberPlaceType States and the UN Secretary-General.

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