Holy See Stresses Need for Maternal Care

Asks UN to Fight Child Mortality

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NEW YORK, APRIL 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Every year some 500,000 mothers die in childbirth, and almost all of these occur in developing countries, the permanent observer of the Holy See at the United Nations pointed out.



Archbishop Celestino Migliore, in an address Monday before the U.N. Economic and Social Council's commission on population and development, noted that "not only do the lives of these mothers end in tragedy but also the lives of their babies begin in turmoil."

"In the aftermath, the chance of survival of their young children decreases dramatically resulting in the disintegration of their families and hindrance to local development," he said.

"Sadly, these deaths represent only the tip of the iceberg," the prelate added. "It is estimated that for every mortality, 30 more women suffer long-term damage to their health, such as from obstetric fistulae."

This severe medical condition results from a hole that develops in the internal organs of the woman after a difficult childbirth, when she does not have adequate medical care.

It can cause internal ulcers and infections, paralyzing nerve damage, and urinal or fecal leaking. In many cultures, this results in social isolation for the woman, who is thought to be unclean.

Archbishop Migliore affirmed: "The physical devastation caused by fistulae makes them complete outcasts and isolated by family and society.

"They suffer pain, humiliation, and lifelong disability if not treated."

"Worldwide perhaps 2 million of these poor, young and forgotten mothers are living with the problem, most of whom are in Africa," he noted.

Preventable

The prelate asserted that "these deaths of mothers and babies are all the more shameful especially since they are readily preventable and treatable."

"Programs focused on providing the services that ensure mothers and their babies survive pregnancy are badly underfunded," he pointed out.

The archbishop urged governments to "continue to address the urgent health needs of children around the world."

"In 2008 alone," he reported, "there were over 243 million cases of malaria leading to over 800,000 deaths."

The delegate continued: "Similarly, treatable and avoidable respiratory infections, digestive diseases and illnesses resulting from inadequate nutrition continue to be the main causes of death for children in the developing world.

"Diseases which long have been eliminated in developed countries continue to devastate children in the developing world and global solidarity is necessary to ensure that poor children have access to necessary medication and nutrition."

Archbishop Migliore affirmed, "In many corners of the globe, Catholic hospitals and clinics continue to be the front-line providers for primary health care, in particular to the most marginalized of society."

He underlined the Church's commitment to "provide care to those whom society has left behind or for whom offering services is too difficult or too dangerous."

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Full text: http://zenit.org/article-28883?l=english