Did you know that many indigenous people and ethnic minorities in the Asia Pacific region do not have fair and full access to health services without fear of discrimination?
In the Ratanakiri and Mondol Kiri provinces of Cambodia – which have high concentrations of ethnic groups – just 38% of women have a doctor, nurse or midwife present at the delivery of their baby, compared to 71% nationally. Skilled attendance at birth has a major impact on the survival chances of both mother and child.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments in the region are taking steps to address women’s and children’s health. But they need to do more to understand the particular needs of ethnic minority and indigenous communities. We are calling on them to collect data broken down by ethnicity, and to develop guidelines for indigenous people to attain their right to health.
Sign now and urge the WHO to protect indigenous mothers!
I am writing to urge the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region to do more to prioritise indigenous women’s maternal health. I welcome the workshop earlier this year beginning the roll-out of the Every Woman, Every Child strategy regionally and encourage you to strengthen efforts to improve the maternal health of these Mothers on the Margins within this strategy.
As you will be aware, the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health recommended that the indicators on reproductive, maternal and child health be disaggregated for ethnicity. At the moment this is not being done, but in regions with a high proportion of ethnic groups, maternal health outcomes are worse. For example, the charity Health Poverty Action reports that in the Ratanakiri and Mondol Kiri provinces of Cambodia where they work, the rate of skilled birth attendance is just 38% compared to 71% nationally.
I encourage you to take urgent action to:
• Disaggregate data by ethnicity to make indigenous discrimination visible and ensure greater equity of indigenous peoples in the future.
• Develop guidelines for indigenous people to be able to attain their right to health.
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