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Fewer maternal deaths is goal.

VATICAN CITY * The Vatican has urged the international community to implement social and health care measures to reduce what it called the "shocking" number of maternal deaths around the world.

Such improvements should include better access to antiretroviral medications by African mothers who are HIV-positive, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told a maternal mortality panel of the Human Rights Council in Geneva June 14. Introducing a minimum age of 18 years for marriage could also help reduce the maternal death rate, he said.

Most importantly, he added, "respect for and promotion of the right to health and of access to medications must not only be spoken about, but also be put into action, by states as well as by nongovernmental organizations and by civil society."

Experts estimate that 350,000-500,000 women die each year during or shortly after pregnancy.

Tomasi said there is a strong correlation between maternal mortality and neonatal death. Each year, about 5.3 million babies die during their first year of life, 3 million during their first week of life.

--Catholic News Service

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Title Annotation:WORLD BRIEFS
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Jun 25, 2010
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