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U. S. Statement at Panel Discussion on Preventing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity
March 10, 2017

Panel discussion on preventing maternal mortality and morbidity as a human rights priority for all States, including in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

As delivered by Gib Brown, USAID Development Adviser
Human Rights Council 34th session
Geneva, March 9, 2017 

Thank you Mr. Vice President and thank you to the panelists.

The United States remains gravely concerned about the incidence of maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide and believes the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is a critical foundation to addressing these challenges.  Maternal mortality and morbidity is a family tragedy, but it also has far-reaching impacts on households and communities.  It can cause or contribute to financial instability within a family, require children to drop out of school or get married too early, and increase childhood mortality.  The maternal mortality and morbidity resolution that the Human Rights Council adopted last September identifies poverty, lack of access to services, and discrimination against women as some of the factors that lead to maternal mortality and morbidity.  That resolution rightfully calls upon states to ensure the meaningful participation of women and girls in decisions that impact their lives.

Globally, the U. S. Agency for International Development has concentrated its efforts to end preventable maternal mortality in 25 priority countries, which together account for more than two-thirds of maternal deaths worldwide.  Working at the community, health facility, district, and regional levels, USAID’s efforts to end maternal mortality in these countries rest on three foundations: enabling and mobilizing individuals and communities, advancing quality, respectful care, and strengthening health systems.

We look forward to working with other countries to share best practices and address preventable maternal deaths, which disproportionately affect low-income women and adolescent girls.

To fully achieve the 2030 SDGs and ensure that no one is left behind, we must focus our efforts where they will have the greatest impact and help to address the full spectrum of development challenges.  This must include breaking down barriers to women’s and girls’ access to health care and taking steps to end preventable maternal morbidity and mortality.  If we do not, true sustainable development will not be possible.

In conclusion, SDG Target 3.1 addresses maternal mortality.  We would like to ask the panelist how the international community can leverage work toward the other goals to help eliminate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity.