I really appreciated this editorial in The Kathmandu Post on Wednesday, 21 July. It linked two things I care about—human rights and maternal health.
It noted that the United Nations Human Rights Council has just released a statement calling on governments worldwide to ensure that women’s right to sexual and reproductive health is ensured, among other things. The paper linked that with its recent reporting about women in remote areas of Nepal giving birth at home and even in sheds!
The council’s statement, in part:
Calls upon States, also in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure continuity of sexual and reproductive health-care services, including access to maternal and newborn care, and other essential maternal and child health support and services, safe abortion when not against national law, modern forms of contraception, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, screening and treatment for cervical cancer, prevention of vertical transmission of HIV, nutrition and mental health services.
According to the newspaper’s editorial, “To save lives and ensure safer births, the government should launch targeted efforts to fight traditions and beliefs that continue to threaten mothers and their newborns while expanding access to basic health services, especially in far-flung regions.
“From 529 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1996 to 239 in 2016, we’ve done a remarkable job to reduce the maternal mortality rate. But we have to do more to reach our goal of reducing the maternal mortality rate to less than 70 for every 100,000 births by 2030 to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Given recent trends, even before Covid-19, hitting that target will be extremely difficult. But of course that doesn’t mean the government should stop trying.