The Nairobi Summit, ICPD25 (the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo) concluded on November 14th 2019 failing to address the necessary action to reduce maternal deaths. The summit covered five themes, but not among them was greater access to basic obstetrical care which would prevent the overwhelming majority of maternal deaths.
According to the study Global causes of maternal death: a WHO systematic analysis, “Between 2003 and 2009, haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, and sepsis were responsible for more than half of maternal deaths worldwide.”(1) Therefore, access to obstetrical care ought be the preeminent concern in the matter of reducing maternal mortality. Sadly, the international community represented in the Nairobi Summit fixated on ideological offerings to curb maternal mortality that hinged on the concept of reducing pregnancies overall rather than ensuring safer pregnancy and childbirth. This is a painful neglect of one group of women- mothers.
Maternal deaths remain unacceptably high in poor countries in the 25 years since the inception of the ICPD. Mothers suffer neglect from the international community which is culpable for the denigration of motherhood to mere servitude of biology rather than upholding the dignity and vital importance of the role of motherhood that enriches our global society. The solution to preventing maternal deaths is not the elimination of motherhood, as summits such as these would have us believe. Rather, the solution to preventing maternal deaths is to ensure that every woman has access to clean, safe and reliable health care facilities and practitioners.
2020 marks another 25th anniversary, the anniversary of Evangelium Vitae, the papal encyclical whose work is our mission at MaterCare International (MCI). Envangelium Vitae speaks directly to summits like the ICDP25, “In such a cultural and legislative situation, the serious demographic, social and family problems which weigh upon many of the world's peoples and which require responsible and effective attention from national and international bodies, are left open to false and deceptive solutions, opposed to the truth and the good of persons and nations.”(2)
To appreciate the importance of motherhood in our contemporary world at least four complementary approaches must be envisaged by those in whose professional expertise this responsibility lies. These are competency, conviction, community and compassion.(3) Until we, as an international community, can see women in their biological entirety as persons, not simply vehicles for a Western ideology, we will continue to fail them.
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