Prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during childbirth

Woman holding her newborn babyLieve Blancquaert
Every woman has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including the right to dignified, respectful care during pregnancy and childbirth. However, across the world many women experience disrespectful, abusive, or neglectful treatment during childbirth in facilities. These practices can violate women’s rights, deter women from seeking and using maternal health care services and can have implications for their health and well-being.

WHO Statement

A new WHO statement illustrates a commitment to promoting the rights of women and to promoting access to safe, timely, respectful care during childbirth. It calls for greater co-operation among governments, healthcare providers, managers, professional associations, researchers, women’s advocates, international organizations and women themselves to end disrespect and abuse during facility-based childbirth.

The WHO statement calls for:

Every woman has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including the right to dignified, respectful care during pregnancy and childbirth.

Greater support from governments and development partners for research and action
Programmes to improve the quality of maternal health care, with a strong focus on respectful care
Greater emphasis on the rights of women to dignified, respectful healthcare through pregnancy and childbirth
The generation of data related to respectful and disrespectful care practices, systems of accountability and meaningful professional support
The involvement of all stakeholders, including women, in efforts to improve quality of care and eliminate disrespectful and abusive practices
This statement has been endorsed by:

American Refugee Committee; Averting Maternal Death and Disability, Mailman School of Public Health Columbia; Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE); Center for Reproductive Rights; Center for the Right to Health (CRH); Commonwealth Medical Trust (Commat); Family Care International; Human Rights in Childbirth; Human Rights Watch; International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO); International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research, Al Azhar University; International Motherbaby Childbirth Organization; IntraHealth International; Jhpiego-an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University; Makererere University College of Health Sciences School; of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Maternal and Child Survival Program; Maternal Health Task Force; Population Council; Reproductive Health Matters; Safe Motherhood Program, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and Policy, Dept. of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at UCSF; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute; University Research Co., LLC (URC); United States Agency for International Development (USAID); The White Ribbon Allianc