The United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) two conferences in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, brought together more than 150 health ministers last week who called for a renewed commitment to lower maternal mortality by 2015. The UN aims to reduce three quarters of maternal mortality rates by 2015 based on 1990 figures, reported Radio Free Europe. According to the UN News Centre, reducing maternal mortality is farthest away from reaching its UN-set Millenium Development goal.
Approximately half a million women die each year during childbirth. Thoraya Ahmed, Executive Director of UNFPA said “women are dying because for too many years, women’s lives, dreams and rights have not been given the priority attention they deserve,” according to the UN News Centre. She also said, “maternal death and disability is one of the greatest moral, human rights and development challenges of our time. We are here in Addis to say that no woman should die giving life and no woman should die from unsafe abortion.”
2005 UN data reveal that giving birth remains a leading cause of death in developing countries. Approximately 1,800 mothers die out of every 100,000 births in Afghanistan and an estimated 300 women die for every 100,000 births in Iraq, according to Radio Free Europe.
According to the BBC, health ministers recognized family planning as the most cost-effective way of dealing with maternal mortality, but no declaration was reached.