Press Notice 34, Session 2006-07


Half a million women die each year from pregnancy-related causes. Most lives could be saved with simple interventions, such as the presence of skilled birth attendants.

Improving maternal health is the fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) with the target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters by 2015. Progress towards meeting the MDG has been very slow and indeed in some African countries maternal deaths are increasing due to HIV prevalence, conflict and weak health systems. However, some Asian countries have made rapid improvements, demonstrating the importance of finding the right policies and conditions to make progress. Maternal health is closely related to other key development factors including poverty, infant mortality, population growth and the status of women. 

The International Development Committee is to begin an inquiry into maternal health. The main purpose of the inquiry will be to examine how donors - particularly the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) - can support progress towards MDG 5.

DFID produced its most recent Maternal Health Strategy in 2004. DFID’s bilateral spend on maternal and newborn health in 2005-06 was £16 million, excluding Poverty Reduction Budget Support. DFID also contributes to the maternal health programmes of the EC, the World Bank, the relevant UN agencies, agencies working on sexual and reproductive health and non-governmental organisations.

The Committee invites interested organisations and individuals -  especially those from developing countries - to submit written evidence addressing the following points:

• How donors - and DFID specifically - can catalyse progress towards MDG 5

• How effectively DFID is working with recipient countries to make emergency obstetric care available and to ensure that adequate numbers of skilled birth attendants and other staff are being trained to meet MDG 5, and are integrated within a robust health system

• The steps DFID is taking to mainstream maternal health across related policies

• How achieving MDG 5 is being prioritised and integrated into countries’ overall healthcare provision

• How DFID is supporting the 2006 recommendation by the UN General Assembly for an MDG target for universal access to reproductive health

• The progress being made in reducing maternal deaths from unsafe abortion (which account for 13% of all maternal deaths)

• How effective family planning is being promoted as a way to improve maternal health

• How effectively DFID works with bilateral and multilateral donors, NGOs and other stakeholders to promote maternal health

• What leadership the UN is providing and how well co-ordinated its agencies are

• How DFID is addressing socio-economic barriers to women’s empowerment and the low status of women in relation to maternal health

• How the international community can improve maternal health in crisis and conflict settings

Submission of written evidence

The Committee invites written submissions from interested organisations and individuals -  especially those from developing countries - on these issues by 14 September 2007.

Evidence submitted should:

- if possible, be provided electronically in MS Word or Rich Text format, either by e-mail to or on a disk. If submitted by e-mail or e-mail attachment, a letter should also be sent validating the e-mail. The letterhead should contain your full postal address and contact details

- begin with a one-page summary if it is longer than six pages

- have numbered paragraphs

- avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material.

Submissions can also be sent by post to the International Development Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA.  Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at:;

Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within written evidence, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet, by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office.  If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.  Please bear in mind that select committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


Detailed enquiries to Chlöe Challender, Committee Specialist on 020 7219 1522 or


Further Information:

The membership of the Committee is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Quentin Davies MP (Con), James Duddridge MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Joan Ruddock MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab), Sir Robert Smith MP (Lib Dem).

Committee Contact: Chlöe Challender, 0207 219 1522 or

Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, 020 7219 1589 or

Committee website:

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845  7023474)