The President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, has committed to lifting all financial barriers to emergency obstetric care and access to family planning, as part of a strategy to fight maternal mortality in the country.
President Compaoré expressed this commitment during a meeting with an Amnesty International delegation led by interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone, and following the publication of an Amnesty International report highlighting the barriers women face in Burkina Faso to receiving adequate health care during pregnancy and child birth.
"The lifting of financial barriers for emergency obstetric care, accompanied by improvements in the quality of care and family planning will significantly reduce the number of deaths and complications for women in child birth," said Claudio Cordone. "Every woman has the right to life and the right to health. No woman should die giving birth when her death could have been prevented."
The government of Burkina Faso has made significant efforts towards improving maternal health during the last decade and Amnesty International welcomes the openness and constructive engagement it has experienced from the government while working on this issue. Costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth have been significantly reduced in Burkina Faso but remain an obstacle for many women in the country.
Pregnant women's lives in Burkina Faso can be endangered by the distance they have to travel to access adequate care, as well as corrupt practices by some medical personnel and lack of effective mechanisms to ensure monitoring and accountability. More than 2,000 women continue to die every year during pregnancy and childbirth.
"Ultimately, in order to fully address maternal death there is a need to tackle the various forms of discrimination against women which prevent them from taking part in decisions on family planning and accessing health care," said Claudio Cordone.
"Amnesty International will continue to work with civil society organizations, medical associations and government officials to address such discrimination and the poverty that fuels it."
The Amnesty International delegation also met Burkina Faso's First Lady Chantal Compaoré, the President of the National Assembly, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the Prime Minister, Tertius Zongo, the Minister of Health, Seydou Bouda and the Minister for the Promotion of Human Rights, Salamata Sawadogo.
During these meetings, interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone shared the findings and recommendations of a two-year research project published in the report, Giving Life, Risking Death: Maternal Mortality in Burkina Faso.
The meetings with the authorities followed two weeks of discussions throughout the country with local communities, health professionals and local government officials. Amnesty International was able to take the testimonies of the people who suffer daily from the loss of their mothers, wives, and sisters to the authorities in the country.
"All the families we met told us that giving birth should be a joy, but that all too often it becomes an ordeal that no one should have to suffer," said Claudio Cordone.
During a meeting with international donors, Amnesty International urged them to continue their support for the Burkina Faso government with adequate, long-term and sustainable technical and financial assistance to ensure the availability and accessibility of emergency obstetric care.
Amnesty International also welcomed the adoption by the Burkina Faso National Assembly in December 2009 of a law implementing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and called for an early abolition of death penalty.