Applying Human Rights to Improve Access to Reproductive Health Services

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 119 (2012) S55-S59

Congratulations to Dorothy Shaw and Rebecca Cook, who co-authored this article, recently published as part of FIGO’s World Report on Women’s Health.   Dorothy Shaw, a former president of both FIGO and SOGC, teaches in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia.  Rebecca Cook, Co-Director of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program and Faculty Chair Emerita in International Human Rights at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, was recently appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of her achievements as a legal scholar on issues of women’s rights, and sexual and reproductive health law.

Abstract:  Universal access to reproductive health is a target of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5B, and along with MDG 5A to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters, progress is currently too slow for most countries to achieve these targets by 2015. Critical to success are increased and sustainable numbers of skilled healthcare workers and financing of essential medicines by governments, who have made political commitments in United Nations forums to renew their efforts to reduce maternal mortality. National essential medicine lists are not reflective of medicines available free or at cost in facilities or in the community. The WHO Essential Medicines List indicates medicines required for maternal and newborn health including the full range of contraceptives and emergency contraception, but there is no consistent monitoring of implementation of national lists through procurement and supply even for basic essential drugs. Health advocates are using human rights mechanisms to ensure governments honor their legal commitments to ensure access to services essential for reproductive health. Maternal mortality is recognized as a human rights violation by the United Nations and constitutional and human rights are being used, and could be used more effectively, to improve maternity services and to ensure access to drugs essential for reproductive health.

The full text of this article can be downloaded here from SSRN.

More articles on Ethical and Legal Issues in Obstetrics and Gynecology can be downloaded through this web page.

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