ACCESS TO MATERNAL HEALTH SERVICES FROM A HUMAN RIGHTS PERSPECTIVE
105. This report has summarized the duties of the States to guarantee protection for women’s right to personal integrity in access to maternal health services under conditions of equality. The Commission hopes with its recommendations to contribute to the efforts of the States in this area and expects that the States’ duties in the area of human rights will require:
1. Analyzing, by legislative, executive, and judicial bodies and by means of strict scrutiny all laws, provisions, practices, and public policies that establish differences in treatment based on gender or that have a discriminatory impact in the terms analyzed in this report.
2. Guaranteeing that the legislation on protecting maternal health is consistent with regional and international standards on the subject that the States have undertaken to follow and are consistent with the goals established by the States to improve maternal health. Policies and programs should be developed with the participation of women themselves.
3. Ensuring that health professionals inform women regarding their health so that they are able to make free, well-founded, and responsible decisions in the area of reproduction.
4. Ensuring that the gender perspective is incorporated in all plans, policies, and programs relating to the protection of and access to maternal health.
5. Strengthening the institutional capacity to guarantee, with adequate financing, women’s access to professional care, during pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum, including emergency obstetrical services in particular, especially for women under conditions of exclusion, while respecting women’s specific needs and cultural preferences.
6. Creating adequate referral mechanisms among health facilities in order to attend to obstetrical emergencies.
7. Guaranteeing the provision of nutrition programs before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and in the post-partum period, to include guidance on how to feed children correctly.
8. Eliminating barriers that may limit women’s access to maternal health services, for example, costs for fees, distance form health centers, and the lack of adequate and accessible public transportation.
9. Guaranteeing that maternal health services are provided with respect for women. In the case of indigenous and afro-descendant women, the States must adapt preventive and care and treatment services, providing for and respecting their expectations, traditions and beliefs.
10. Guaranteeing that public policies and programs designed to improve the maternal health of adolescents address the particular needs of this group, respecting their rights to privacy and confidentiality, recognizing the rights and duties of parents, and based on their age and maturity, consistent with the development of their faculties.
11. Implementing measures so that information systems appropriately reflect the health situation at the national and local level, such as figures on maternal morbidity and mortality, neonatal mortality, and their causes, so as to make decisions and take effective actions.
12. Establishing effective administrative, civil, and criminal procedures to guarantee justice for women when their rights to integrity as well as appropriate treatment under conditions of equality are violated.
13. Establishing regular training mechanisms for health professionals on protecting the rights of women in the health services as well as accountability mechanisms for personnel who fail to meet their duty to provide medical care to women who require it.
14. Establishing mechanisms to inform women at the local level regarding their rights as users of the health system and to consult with them on how to achieve their effective access to the information and health services they require.