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Maternal Mortality Reduction in Argentina and Uruguay
Thanks to an initiative led by Fundación para la Salud del Adolescente (FUSA) in the context of the project Promoting Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Argentina (supported by IPPF), a bilateral meeting took place on December 11th and 12th in Montevideo, Uruguay. This meeting brought together public health authorities from both countries and FUSA AC technical teams in order to share maternal morbidity and mortality reduction experiences. Uruguay has implemented a series of sexual and reproductive health policies that have led to the elimination of abortion-related maternal mortality. Both the risk and harm reduction strategy, which has been implemented since 2004 to tackle the effects of unsafe abortion, and the subsequent legal reform that decriminalized voluntary termination of pregnancy have been key to this achievement.
Iniciativas Sanitarias (IPPF's Member Association in Uruguay) played a critical role in every stage of the process, thus showing the potential of collaboration between non-governmental organizations and the state to develop and implement comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy. This organization was a pioneer in the application of the risk and harm reduction model in a context of restricted access to abortion. Its main goal was to reduce both maternal morbidity and mortality caused by unsafe abortion and child morbidity and mortality, and to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The association's efforts, backed by Ministry of Health regulations, substantially improved indicators and fostered women's trust in the healthcare system. This successful endeavor set in motion a process that involved a variety of social actors and culminated with the decriminalization of abortion in 2012.
In this context, one of the objectives of the meeting was to promote experience sharing between the health authorities of both countries. More specifically, participants discussed Uruguay's public policy-making linked to the implementation of the risk and harm reduction model to address unsafe abortion, which bore a significant impact on the reduction of unsafe abortions and the mortality associated with them. The focal point of the meeting was the formalization and legitimization of the risk and harm reduction model applied in Uruguay. Uruguay's policy can serve as an example for Argentina, which is seeking to consolidate the strategies and experience of numerous health facilities into a specific national policy that will promote, ensure, and generate the necessary conditions for the implementation of comprehensive counseling on risk and harm reduction nationwide.
Uruguayan Health Minister Dr. Susana Muñiz, Vice Minister Dr. Leonel Briozzo, and the coordinators of the country's sexual and reproductive health team hosted the meeting, along with Iniciativas Sanitarias representatives. The Argentine delegation was led by Dr. Nicolás Kreplak, Undersecretary of Community Medicine, Maternity, and Childhood of the Ministry of Health, along with the head of Maternity and Childhood, Dr. Ana Speranza, the coordinator of the National Sexual Health and Responsible Procreation Program, Dr. Adriana Álvarez, ministers of health and technical teams of an array of Argentine provinces, and FUSA AC representatives. Participants strongly emphasized the significance of implementing public policy and regulations that will facilitate comprehensive access to services for the entire population so that it can exercise its sexual and reproductive rights. The meeting had the support of IPPF Member organizations FUSA AC (Argentina) and Iniciativas Sanitarias (Uruguay).