Invoking Human Rights to Reduce Maternal Deaths

The Lancet, Vol. 363, No. 9402, p. 73, 2004

Posted: 14 Oct 2011

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Beatriz Galli


Date Written: January 3, 2004


National strategies might best be exemplified by developments in Brazil, where all three branches of government-executive, legislative, and judicial-are engaged in making motherhood safer. Across the country, 260 women die per 100 000 livebirths; rates are highest in the poorest north, northeast, and centre-west regions. In 1994, in an attempt to reduce maternal deaths, the Federal Ministry of Health established the National Commission on Maternal Mortality. State governments undertook to create 27 maternal mortality committees to conduct confidential investigations into causes of maternal deaths, and to work towards prevention. However, in 2001, a Federal Parliamentary Commission reported that only 14 committees were active, since in the poorest states, committees either lacked the resources to function effectively or had not been established; and, despite notification of maternal deaths having been mandatory since 1997, that maternal deaths were under-reported throughout Brazil, especially in the poorer states.

Keywords: maternal mortality, Brazil, human rights

JEL Classification: H51, I12, I18, K32

Suggested Citation

Cook, Rebecca J. and Galli Bevilacqua, Maria Beatriz, Invoking Human Rights to Reduce Maternal Deaths (January 3, 2004). The Lancet, Vol. 363, No. 9402, p. 73, 2004, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca J. Cook (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Maria Beatriz Galli Bevilacqua

IPAS USA ( email )

P.O. Box 5027
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
United States

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