Delivered on 9 March 2017

Delivered by Ms Aishatha Shahula, First Secretary of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva

Thank you, Mr. President,

Maldives believes that the failure to address preventable maternal mortality and morbidity poses a significant risk to the empowerment of women and girls worldwide. High rates of maternal mortality are often directly related to human rights denials including amongst many others: discrimination against women, inequality, gender based violence, harmful traditional practices and challenges in the area of nutrition.

Mr. President,

The Maldives’ maternal mortality rates have seen a 90 percent plunge in the last 25 years, the largest of such drops in the world over this period according to UN estimates. Our progress on this issue has amounted to an impressive 9.2 per cent decline every year, for 25 years, compared to the global 2.3 per cent annual decline in the maternal death ratio in the same period.

Addressing the problem of maternal mortality in the Maldives began with in-depth reviews of all maternal deaths, which helped health officials understand why women were dying. In the past two decades, the Maldives have tackled maternal mortality by strengthening the basic care and comprehensive emergency obstetric care throughout the country’s health system to provide more affordable and accessible health care. Health workers worked with women to raise awareness about benefits of family planning and contraceptives, which helped to reduce the number of miscarriages and pregnancy-related risks. Today, antenatal care is almost universal in the Maldives and almost every birth takes place in a health facility.

Mr. President,

Gender Equality cannot be achieved without promoting and protecting the right of women to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. We therefore encourage governments to strengthen and reorient their health services, in particularly primary health care to ensure universal access to quality and affordable health services for women and girls. Furthermore, that governments give particular attention to improving maternal and emergency obstetric care in the health system for the empowerment of women as agreed in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Thank you.