Abstract – Integrating interventions on maternal mortality and morbidity and HIV: A human rights-based framework and approach

Susana Fried, Brianna Harrison, Kelly Starcevich, Corinne Whitaker, Tiana O’Konek

Health and Human rights 14/2

Published December 2012


Maternal mortality and morbidity (MMM) and HIV represent interlinked challenges arising from common causes, magnifying their respective impacts and producing related consequences. Accordingly, an integrated response will lead to the most effective approach for both.

Shared structural drivers include gender inequality; gender-based violence (including sexual violence); economic disempowerment; and stigma and discrimination in access to services or opportunities based on gender and HIV. Further, shared system-related drivers also contribute to a lack of effective access to acceptable, high-quality health services and other development resources from birth forward. HIV and MMM are connected in both outcomes and solutions: in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is the leading cause of maternal death, while the most recent global report on HIV identifies prevention of unintended pregnancy and access to contraception as two of the most important HIV-related prevention efforts.1 Both are central to reducing unsafe abortion—another leading cause of maternal death globally, and particularly in Africa.

A human rights-based framework helps to identify these shared determinants. A human rights-based approach works to establish the health-related human rights standards to which all women are entitled, as well to outline the indivisible and intersecting human rights principles which inform and guide efforts to prevent, protect from, respond to, and provide remedy for human rights violations—in this case related to HIV and maternal mortality and morbidity.The Millennium Declaration and Development Goals (MDGs) help to both set quantifiable goals for achieving the components identified within the human rights-based framework and document the international consensus that no single goal—such as those addressing HIV and MMM-can be achieved without progress on all development goals.