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For Immediate Release

Governments: Address Maternal Death as an Urgent Matter of Human Rights

Cambridge, Mass - 09/19/2008

PHR is calling on the governments convening at the UN General Assembly to make an immediate commitment to stopping the alarming rate globally of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth.

In advance of the High Level UN Meetings on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on September 25, PHR and partners in the International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights have issued a "Call to Governments" to "Focus on 5", the fifth of the goals, and the one that has seen the least progress – maternal health. Our call asks governments and donors to assure healthy pregnancy and delivery for all women as a basic human right, and to address the human rights violations causing the unacceptable levels of death and disability.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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