“Maternal health for refugee women needed” says Malta’s President

Parliamentarians from across Europe and other relevant stakeholders gathered in Malta in a high-level meeting on maternal health and refugee women organised by the Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL) and the President of Malta, H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.

One in 10 women in the EU have no access to maternal health services in the first months of pregnancy and nearly 1,800 maternal deaths occurred in Europe in 2015, according to MSD for Mothers. Data show that maternal health remains a critical concern also in this region. Many women are still unable to gain access to timely and quality healthcare, with refugee women being particularly vulnerable. However, maternal health often takes a lower spot on the healthcare agenda.

In order to address this situation, the Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL), under the distinguished patronage of H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta, and in collaboration with MSD for Mothers, organised a high-level meeting on Maternal Health and Refugee Women in Malta (March 20-21).

As a result of this two-day conference, a formal Call for Action with proposals coming from this high-level meeting, will be put forward to the European Commission and the Council of Health Ministers.

H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta, urged both the EU Commissioner and the Maltese Minister of Health to “to move the EU from words to action.” “It is the time for us to call for practical action to be taken to ensure that the maternal health of all women, including migrant and refugee women, is effectively accessible,” Coleiro Preca stated. The President highlighted that “maternal health is not a women’s Issue, but a fundamental human right” and reminded participants of the commitment to reduce maternal mortality as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Hon. Christopher Fearne, Maltese Minister of Health, gave his commitment to bring forward the mission tasked to him by the President and actively take the issue to the EU Council of Health Ministers.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, who also attended the conference, committed “to appeal to national governments to do their outmost to meet the health needs of migrants and to pay particular attention to maternal health.” “The EC will continue to use all its legal and financial tools to help Member States in this regard,” he added. According to him, it is “unacceptable” that preventable maternal deaths of mothers and children continue to take place in the EU. “Zero death is my goal,” Andriukaitis concluded.

Silvana Koch-Mehrin, WPL Founder and President, highlighted the importance of this commitment: “We can create some impact by bringing forward to the EU Ministries and the European Commission the Declaration which will result from this conference.” Koch-Merin continued, saying, “We have been able to combine different levels of political action to move things forward.”

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