Trends in maternal mortality: 1990–2010
This report, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank, sets out comprehensive global, regional and country level maternal mortality estimates for 2010 and highlights trends from 1990 to 2010. The report was prepared by the Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG).
The report states that by 2010 there had been a 47% global decrease in maternal deaths from levels recorded for 1990. Factors that could account for this decrease include improvements to health systems, increased access to health services and increased levels of education within the female population. In 2010 two countries, India at 19% and Nigeria at 14%, accounted for a third of all maternal deaths worldwide. By 2010 ten countries had already achieved Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 (which aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by 75%): Estonia; Maldives; Belarus; Romania; Bhutan; Equatorial Guinea; Iran; Lithuania; Nepal; Vietnam. In May 2011, the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health recommended that all countries should establish a comprehensive civil registration system to record births and deaths (including a specific cause of death) and implement efficient health information systems. If achieved, this would ensure greater accuracy in preparing maternal mortality estimates and would allow for better monitoring of progress towards MDG 5. At present, however, only one-third of countries are reported as having accomplished this.
Tools for change: applying United Nations standards to secure women’s housing, land and property rights in the context of HIV
This multi-stakeholder manual has been produced specifically for use by anyone pursuing claims to land, housing or property rights for women affected by HIV, including women themselves or professionals or service providers working on their behalf. The manual clearly sets out international human rights principles and the United Nations Standards, and the importance of these to women with HIV. Brief overviews of women’s rights in various countries are provided including Uganda, Canada, Malawi, India, Kenya, Nepal and South Africa. Chapter three focuses on enforcement and highlights that in signing up to the MDGs all United Nations member states have undertaken to uphold women’s rights within their own countries. Enforcing those rights, however, remains a challenge. The manual provides examples of ways in which women have become involved in promoting women’s rights in their country within the context of HIV including: participating in constitutional development in Uganda; Huairou Commission and GROOTS Home Based Care Alliance; raising the Voices of Women Affected by HIV in Kenya; and the South African National AIDS Council Women’s Sector. The manual provides eight advocacy strategies for people to use as a tool for change: fact-finding and documentation; human rights training and capacity building; strategic organising; strategic litigation; petitioning national human rights commissions; law reform; media campaigns; international advocacy.
I had to run away: the imprisonment of women and girls for moral crimes in Afghanistan
This report, published by Human Rights Watch, highlights the issue of the imprisonment of women and girls in Afghanistan for what are termed ‘moral crimes’. These include ‘running away’ and zina (sexual intercourse between two individuals who are not married to each other). The 2009 Elimination of Violence against Women Law banned forced marriage, forced prostitution, domestic violence, rape and other abuses against women but this law is reported to be inconsistently enforced. No official law governing ‘running away’ from an abusive family or relationship exists in the Afghan Penal code but it is reported that women who do run away receive no support from the police, judiciary or government officials and many are actually charged with the crime of ‘running away’ and face a lengthy punishment. The report discusses women’s rights since the end of Taliban rule, including violence against women and girls, the prevalence of forced and underage marriage and traditional practices of Baad and Baadal (exchange marriages). The report is based on in-depth interviews with 58 Afghan women and girls who are being held in prison and juvenile rehabilitation centres, and with prison wardens, government officials and advisors and women’s rights activists and experts.
Priority life-saving medicines for women and children 2012
Published by the WHO, this list updates the 2011 version entitled ‘Priority medicines for mothers and children’. The 2012 list was drawn up following the 18th Expert Committee Meeting on Selection and Use of Medicines, the release of relevant new treatment guidelines and consultation and feedback from key partners. The medicines included in the 2012 list take into account the global burden of disease and were chosen as a result of their efficacy and safety in preventing or treating major causes of ill-health including sexual and reproductive health, maternal and newborn health and child and adolescent health. Additions to the 2012 list include: misoprostol for the prevention of postpartum haemorrhage; hydralazine and methyldopa for the treatment of severe pregnancy-induced hypertension; misoprostol and mifepristone for termination of pregnancy; tetanus vaccine for the prevention of tetanus in both mothers and children; and various family planning methods. Medicines removed from the updated list include: 2 ml vial of magnesium sulphate; procaine benzylpenicillin; and higher dosage forms for treating neonatal sepsis.