'Reproductive health remains priority'
The Netherlands wants to continue playing a lead role in the global fight to improve reproductive and sexual health and rights. Deputy Development Cooperation Minister Ben Knapen is convinced the Netherlands has a lot to offer in this field.
He made his remarks during the annual Mothers’ Night event in the Plein square in The Hague. The organisers called on Mr Knapen to take political action to realise Millennium Development Goal 5: to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.
Director Dianda Veldman of the sexual and reproductive health and rights organisation RutgersWPF said it was not just a matter of reducing the suffering of individuals but also of economic interests. Women who have less children and in a safer way are healthier, able to work and need less care.
Each year, an estimated 350,000 women die in child birth or as the result of complications during pregnancy or delivery, most of these deaths are caused by inadequate circumstances and care. Ms Veldman said simple measures and relatively small amounts of money can seriously reduce maternal mortality.
Deputy Minister Knapen said he was aware of the economic importance of improved maternal care and called the death of about 1,000 women a day ‘inacceptable. He emphasised that the Netherlands had a good reputation in the fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Mr Knapen said it was no just about emancipation but also the cultural taboos still prevalent in many countries. For that reason, governments often fail to take action on the issue, but do support the Netherlands behind the scenes.
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