Tuesday, 28 October 2008

20 lakh women die in maternal mortality in south Asia

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 28: As many as 20 lakh women died in maternal mortality in south Asia including India.
According to Saira Shameen, executive director of Asian-Pacific Research and Resource Centre for Women, Malaysia, a 10 per cent of them died due to unsafe abortions. A study carried out in India, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines indicated that affordable, accessible and gender-sensitive sexual health and reproductive health care continues to be a huge challenge in the region.
Addressing a press conference on the eve of the Fourth Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, here on Sunday, Shameen said India's National Rural Health Mission had drawn up a strategy to bring down maternal mortality to 100 per lakh live births by 2012. "This is based on the assumption that the market can achieve higher efficiencies in health service provision as compared to the public sector. However, the assumption that people will be able to exercise consumer independence in accessing health services is wrong because it is the seller who decides the kind of treatment and for how long it should be. This could result in profiteering from marginalised women seeking medical care," she warned.
Jane Chivers, manager, Education and Training, Family Planning, Australia, said people with disability form the largest minority in the world making up 10 per cent of the world population. This figure of 650 million people with disability is increasing every year. "There have always been deep and persistent negative stereotypes, prejudices and fears about people with a disability and particularly about their sexuality. These prejudices are consistent across most countries and cultures. They result in discriminatory practices that cause people with disabilities to live on the margins of communities where their rights are overlooked," she said.
"In countries with life expectancies over 70 years, individuals spend on average about eight years, or 11.5 per cent of their life span, living with disabilities. Disability rates are significantly higher among groups with lower educational attainment in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. On average, 19 per cent of less educated people have disabilities, compared to 11 per cent among the better educated.
In most OECD countries, women report higher incidents of disability than men," she observed.
Sunil Mehra, co-chair of India Organising Committee of the Conference, said with some 700 million adolescents in the 10 to 19 years age group living in Asia, there will be a special focus on youth and their sexual rights and needs. with eight States in the country banning sex education in schools, the subject is relevant not only for India but for the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka where their tradition based societies are in a state of transition to modern lifestyles and western values.

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