Zero maternal deaths is feasible – expert

maternal deaths

UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe says zero maternal death is feasible, though it may sound like an impossible mission.
Dr Sidibe, speaking at the Women Leaders Forum 2013, recalled how the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV was seen as mission impossible, but has been made possible with political will and concerted efforts.
Dr Sidibe said the “zero mothers die” undertaking will require economic reforms aimed at empowering women to free them from all forms of abuse that make them vulnerable to contracting HIV.
He said there is also need for universal sex education to prevent new HIV infections.
“We have a lot of girls who have been sexually abused; they get HIV and end up giving birth to HIV-positive babies,” he said.
Dr Sidibe said there is need to empower girls with information on reproductive health so that they can negotiate their sexual rights in a responsible manner.
He condemned sexual violence against women saying, “We need to criminalise sexual violence to end the impunity.”
Dr Sidibe said there is also need to eliminate early marriages and female genital mutilation.
In addition, “We must not discriminate against women on gender and sexual orientation.”
Dr Sibide also called for early anti-retroviral therapy to reduce HIV-related deaths.
“If we put people on treatment early enough, we can prevent 96 percent deaths.
“If we spend US$15 million on treatment by 2016, we can avoid 1.4 million deaths and prevent 500,000 infections in children. This means that we will save seven million children from becoming orphans,” he said.
The Women Leaders Forum is an official side event of the United Nations General Assembly.
It is organised by Advanced Development for Africa Foundation, Global Partnerships Forum and Global Digital Health Initiative in cooperation with UNAIDS and the International Telecommunication Union.