Oxfam welcomes Government commitment to maternal health in developing countries

General, Media Releases, Organisation news article written on the 10 Mar 2009

International aid agency Oxfam welcomed today’s decision by the Rudd Government to change the Family Planning Guidelines, which apply to Australia’s overseas development program.
Oxfam Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the announcement by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith that the government would change the Family Planning Guidelines for Australia’s overseas development assistance program to support the same range of family planning services for women in developing countries as are supported for women in Australia would help prevent maternal deaths overseas.
“This change of policy by the Rudd Government will help save the lives of women in developing countries. It will also assist Australian efforts towards achieving the targets set up in the Millennium Development Goals, ” Mr Hewett said.
“Today’s announcement shows that this is fundamentally a development issue that will help prevent the unnecessary deaths of women in poor countries who are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or from pregnancy related complications than women in rich countries.
“The result of the previous policy had not just been an increase in the risk of needless death because of unsafe procedures, the policies themselves had made it increasingly hard for aid and development agencies to carry out any sexual and reproductive health services.”

Mr Hewett said UNICEF referred to the difference in pregnancy risk between women in the developing and developed worlds as the “greatest health divide in the world”.

“Progress towards this reduction in maternal mortality requires a comprehensive approach to the provision of sexual and reproductive health services,” Mr Hewett said.
For more information or to interview Andrew Hewett, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0409 960 100 or laurellek@oxfam.org.au