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Maternal Mortality in Peru

Maternal Mortality in Peru

Hundreds of poor, rural, and Indigenous pregnant women in Peru are dying because they are effectively being denied the same health services other women in the country receive. Peru has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the Americas, despite being a middle-income country. Pregnant women in Peru die because they face barriers, including lack of access to emergency obstetric care, unavailability of information on maternal health, and lack of health staff who can speak Indigenous languages. According to the 2007 National Census of Indigenous Peoples, nearly 60 per cent of the communities covered by the census did not have access to a health facility.

The deep inequalities in Peruvian society are reflected in widely different maternal mortality ratios between women in rich and poor areas. According to the Peruvian Ministry of Health, women in rural areas are twice as likely as those in urban areas to die from causes related to pregnancy. Maternal mortality could be greatly reduced if the barriers that prevent or delay women accessing emergency obstetric services were removed. These barriers are highest for women from excluded or remote communities.

Amnesty International is calling on the government of Peru to adopt, fund, and implement a national strategy to prevent and reduce maternal mortality.

This must include:

  • Allocating adequate resources to maternal and reproductive health care, with a priority on skilled birth attendance, emergency obstetric care, and referral systems in the poorest regions.
  • Removing economic, physical, and cultural barriers that prevent poor, rural, and Indigenous women from accessing essential health care.
  • Involving women in the decisions that affect their health: women’s voices must be heard when decisions are being made about maternal health care and family planning.
  • Providing accessible information in appropriate languages about sexual and reproductive rights and health.
  • Ensuring adequate monitoring of the health care system to enhance accountability.

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