Pregnant Women Dying at "Scandalous" Rates in Peru

A new Amnesty International report titled "Fatal Flaws: Barriers to Maternal Health in Peru" found that many poor, indigenous pregnant women are dying because they lack access to the basic medical care afforded other women in the country.

Nuria Garcia, Amnesty's Peru researcher, said in a statement, "The
rates of maternal mortality in Peru are scandalous. The fact that so
many women are dying from preventable causes is a human rights
violation. The Peruvian state is simply ignoring its obligation
to provide adequate maternal health care to all women, regardless of who
they are and where they live."

Garcia concluded that the Peruvian government has been negligent as far as tackling the health problems faced by many in the poor, rural regions of the country. The government's official figures state that approximately 185 of every 100,000 births end in a fatality, but the Amnesty report says the actual number is closer to 240. That number gives Peru the dubious distinction of having one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the Americas. Peru's ministry of health figures list the five main causes of pregnancy-related deaths as hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia, infection, complications following abortion and obstructed birth.

The Amnesty report cited language and transportation issues as two factors contributing to the sky-high maternal mortality rate. Many of the indigenous women in Peru speak Quechua, an ancient Andean language and common tongue of the Incan Empire, while most Peruvian doctors speak Spanish. Those living in rural communities also have to travel immense distances in order to receive care, with ambulatory services nearly nonexistent.

Amnesty International has strongly urged the Peruvian government to prioritize women's health issues and has also recommended more training, mostly in indigenous languages.