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Panel Discussion 5: Maternal Mortality


Permanent Mission of Fiji to United Nations Geneva

Statement of Fiji at a panel discussion on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity as a human rights priority for all States, including in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Human Rights Council

34th Session

Mr President

Fiji thanks the members of the panel for their contributions to this important subject. Fiji notes that between 2000 and 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 37 per cent, to an estimated ratio of 216 per 100,000 live births in 2015. Almost all maternal deaths occur in low-resource settings and can be prevented. Globally, 3 out of 4 births were assisted by skilled health-care personnel in 2015. This is progress.

However, Fiji and indeed the rest of the Pacific Island States, have noted that apart from gender inequality and lack of access to medical facilities and help for women generally, disasters and climate change have increased the risk of deaths before, during and after childbirth.

In recognition of this, a special consideration to maternal health has been included to all national and regional health and disasters frameworks, as well as national plans of action on climate change risks in the Pacific.

In 2015, the Pacific Health Ministers signed an important document called “Kaila” meaning “Cry” on devising a health strategy for the health of women children and adolescents’ health during climate change. It acknowledges that more than half of maternal and child deaths occur in humanitarian settings including disasters, and that health challenges were especially acute among mobile populations, internally displaced communities and individuals, and those living in islands which are suffering the effects of climate change.

This year Fiji as a member of the Executive Board of the WHO, was pleased to support the WHO Global Strategy for Women’s Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, a strategy which includes an indicator and monitoring process for measuring progress for the Global Strategy. Fiji’s Minister for Health is also a member of the WHO/OHCHR High Level Working Group on Human Rights and the Health of Women Children and Adolescents.

Gender is a cross cutting issue which is relevant not just in relation to SDG 5 but also to Goal 3 in relation to the right to health and wellbeing, and to Goal 13 on climate change.

In that regard, Fiji considers the issue to be one which is central to all human rights and specifically to equality in the access of all persons to health.

Thank you

Suva, Fiji