The fifth Millennium Development Goal refers to the improvement of maternal health and comprises two targets aiming to diminish maternal mortality ratio and provide universal access to reproductive health.
Maternal mortality and the morbidity associated with its determining factors are serious public health problems that reveal some of the deepest inequalities in living conditions. They reflect the health of women of childbearing age, the state of health services and quality of the care to which women have access, including contraception, antenatal care, the attendance of skilled health personnel during delivery and emergency obstetric services. The absence of this medical attention and these services leads to deaths and health problems that can be avoided through the provision of adequate care before, during and after delivery and in response to post-partum complications. In addition to raising mortality, poor maternal health has other consequences, including, according to the World Health Organization, the high incidence of morbidity and disability arising from the inadequate monitoring of, and provision of care during, pregnancies and deliveries, including infertility, sexually transmitted diseases or, at other stages of the life cycle, genital prolapse and urinary incontinence.
Through this target, the fifth Millennium Development Goal gives expression to a requirement established in several international instruments regarding the need to protect the health of all mothers without distinction. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has indicated that not adopting adequate measures to reduce maternal mortality rates can constitute a human rights violation; target 5.A and the right to health are therefore mutually reinforcing.