The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by MEP Filiz Hyusmenova (ALDE Group), Marc Tarabella (S&D Group), Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (EPP Group).

Giving birth is as old as life itself. Every year in the EU, 5 million women give birth and we don’t give it a second thought. But we need to think again: in 2013 there were an estimated 1900 maternal deaths in Europe. What this shows is the enormous importance of maternal health and access to maternal care itself. In order to protect both babies and their mothers, we need to act to boost the healthcare they are entitled to, both throughout pregnancy and afterwards.

That’s why we’re urging you to sign the Declaration on Universal Access to Maternal Healthcare.

This Declaration is about making sure that maternal health is not something we take for granted. We believe that no mother should die giving birth. People often wrongly assume that problems accessing maternal care are an issue for developing countries. After all, in the EU we have some of the best research, the best technologies, the best medical advancements. Yet all this is meaningless to people who are unable to access them.

Equality is a fundamental right and a key cornerstone of our Union. But when we took a look at the statistics, we were shocked at how many mothers are deprived of access both to information and the most basic maternal care. 1 in 10 women have no access to maternal care in the first months of their pregnancy. Research shows severe inequalities in access to, and information on, maternal healthcare for ethnic minorities, younger mothers and those with lower income.

These inequalities aren’t just social – they’re also national. Women constantly face problems receiving maternity treatment in foreign countries. The single market is based on the principle of free movement. Yet if women making up an important part of our workforce are discouraged from cross-border employment because they lack the basic assurance of crucial maternity care, free movement is called into question, and our shared economic growth is jeopardised.

So improving access to maternal care not only reaffirms the right to equality, it also makes economic sense.

So what does this declaration call for? Quite simply, it demands universal access to and information about maternity care, regardless of country, race or socioeconomic status. It is up to national health authorities, with the help of international organisations, to instigate better data exchange to assess and better understand disparities between countries and gaps to be filled. Through exchanging best practice, national healthcare systems can take important steps forward, improving attention towards mothers, and reaching out to women so they always have a safety net. This will ensure that our maternity healthcare systems are sustainable in order to manage current and future generations, caring for every mother and the child she’s responsible for.

Together with the Alliance for Maternal Health Equality, we urge you to support our Declaration on Universal Access to Maternal Healthcare tabled by MEP Filiz Hyusmenova (ALDE Group). Inequalities and failures in access to maternal healthcare have gone unnoticed for too long. Now is the time to change that, by signing to protect the mothers and babies at the heart of our Union’s future.


[Link to Declaration]

[Alliance Infographic]

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