HIV, Maternal Mortality Link Demands Re-vamped US Policy

For Immediate Release

HIV, Maternal Mortality Link Demands Re-vamped US Policy

WASHINGTON - -Further progress in reducing the global maternal mortality ratio cannot
be achieved without an aggressive shift in the US approach to global
health policy, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
announced today. While the overall the global maternal mortality ratio
has decreased according to a new study released yesterday in the Lancet,
HIV is responsible for more than 60,000 maternal deaths each year. The
data confirms the link between HIV and maternal mortality, and
corroborates the necessity for comprehensive health programs that
integrate HIV interventions and maternal health care.

"Smart U.S. foreign policy investments must address HIV and maternal
health with integrated and coordinated programming," said Serra Sippel,
president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). "Anyone
accessing HIV treatment must also have access to voluntary family
planning and other reproductive health services, such as pre-natal care,
cancer screening and treatment, and safe abortion services. Currently,
HIV, maternal health, and family planning are funded, programmed, and
evaluated separately, which ultimately pits the issues against each
other. Given the recent research results, this approach also limits
program effectiveness."

Reducing the maternal mortality ratio means honestly confronting the
reality of illness, health care and those who access it. Effective U.S.
global health policy must be:

- Integrated and coordinated: Illness does not recognize programmatic
divisions.
- Woman-centered: Stemming global health epidemics depends on addressing
the disparate conditions that put women at higher risk for poor health.
- Multi-sectoral: Poverty alleviation, education promotion, food
provision, housing support, job creation and training, and environmental
protection all contribute to positive health outcomes.

- Human rights based: Health programs must respect individuals' autonomy
and agency, ensuring that services are provided free from
discrimination, coercion, and violence.
- Accessible: Health services must be youth-friendly, and financially
and physically accessible.

The Obama Administration has indicated a move towards policy that meets
the above criteria through the introduction of the Global Health
Initiative (GHI). The GHI identifies program integration and a
woman-centered approach as guiding principles. The U.S. has the
opportunity to significantly reduce the maternal mortality rate through
the GHI, but it needs to assure the initiative is adequately funded and
coordinated among agencies.

For additional analysis, see "Obama's Global Health Initiative: Getting
It Right The First Time Around," by CHANGE President Serra Sippel. http://huff.to/a4nFLV

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The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) is a US-based non-governmental organization that seeks to ensure that U.S. international policies and programs promote sexual and reproductive health and rights through effective, evidence-based approaches to prevention and treatment of critical reproductive and sexual health concerns, and through increased funding for critical international programs and institutions. For more information, visit www.genderhealth.org

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