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Safe Child Birth - Progress but still a long road ahead Safe Child Birth - Progress but still a long road ahead
by Rene Wadlow
2019-11-23 09:11:23
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Safe child birth of a child wanted by the two parents and follow up health care that will avoid early child death is a goal set out 25 years ago by the U.N.-sponsored International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in chibir01_400Cairo. Now, 12-14 November, 2019 the ICPD Plus 25 is being held in Nairobi with delegates from governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academic specialists. Issues of safe pregnancy, safe child birth, and early childhood care are the core of the agenda. The goals had been set 25 years ago and are still largely agreed to. The issues on which there is less agreement are the socio-economic context in which the safe child birth is to be carried out.

In many countries, there is a rapidly changing society in which there are modifications in the stratification system of power, prestige, and mobility. One of the over-all goals, repeated in many U.N. resolutions is gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women. Yet gender inequality can keep women in bonds of poverty which deprives them of opportunities. These bonds of poverty as well as cultural patterns lead to early marriage for girls. They often have little knowledge of sexual and reproductive health care. Thus, they can give birth too early. There is also the dangers of HIV-AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. Access to family planning services are often limited, especially for young, unmarried women. In some countries, as seen currently in the U.S.A. family planning services have come under attack or are severely limited economically. In the same spirit, the U.S.A. has cut back on grants to international family planning programs.

The barriers to safe childbirth and early child care may differ from country to country and also within a country - urban, rural, marginal or politically central. Thus, there is a need to study specific situations and to make policy and practices aligned to the specific area. There is also the oft-repeated goal of placing people, their needs, and aspirations at the center of development.

The question to be asked, though probably not answered in Nairobi is why after 25 years have we seen so limited progress. There are a good number of countries that have undergone wars and other forms of armed violence. There has also been political, economic and social instability. Skillful leadership is crucial, but it is often in short supply. We need to appreciate the progress made but still not underestimate the length of the road ahead.


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


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