Comprehensive Rights-Based Maternity Care

Respect for women’s autonomy, dignity, feelings, choices, and preferences strengthens efforts to prevent maternal morbidity and mortality. Maternal health services that are not rights-based may serve as an exit point for health care instead of an entry point.

Rights-Based Maternity Services in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has high rates of maternal mortality, yet almost all women technically have skilled attendants at birth – an indicator many use to measure a country’s ability to reduce maternal deaths. Clearly, skilled attendants are not enough: assessments have found that maternal mortality is due to public hospitals’ failure to provide quality services that respect human rights. Maternity wards commonly are overcrowded and dirty, and the staff lack professionalism.

In contrast, International Planned Parenthood Federation member association Profamilia provides a model maternity hospital in Santiago. CHANGE researchers found the hospital to be clean and professional, with patients thanking providers for the good care they received. The hospital and attached clinic offer surgery, CD4 counts, counseling, community outreach, and education. All of Profamilia’s services integrate gender-based violence awareness.

Fact Sheet: Maternal Health and Respectful Maternity Care

Access to rights-based maternal health services and respectful maternity care are essential to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Evidence shows that access to health care alone is not enough to promote maternal health and decrease maternal morbidity and mortality. Many women who experience disrespect and abuse during childbirth are less likely to see skilled health care in the future. Maternal health services must include rights-based, respectful maternity care.

Read the Maternal Health and Respectful Maternity Care fact sheet. 

Call to Action for an International Day for Maternal Health and Rights 

We call on governments, international institutions, and the global community of civil society organizations to celebrate and recognize April 11 as the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights. 

To sign-on to the Call to Action as an organization, please email Devan Shea at dshea@genderhealth.org. Individuals can add their names here: http://bit.ly/IntlMHDay.