8.21. Countries should strive to effect significant reductions in maternal mortality by the year 2015; a reduction in maternal mortality by one half of the 1990 levels by the year 2000 and a further one half by 2015. The realization of these goals will have different implications for countries with different 1990 levels of maternal mortality. Countries with intermediate levels of mortality should aim to achieve by the year 2005 a maternal mortality rate below 100 per 100,000 live births and by the year 2015 a maternal mortality rate below 60 per 100,000 live births. Countries with the highest levels of mortality should aim to achieve by 2005 a maternal mortality rate below 125 per 100,000 live births and by 2015 a maternal mortality rate below 75 per 100,000 live births. However, all countries should reduce maternal morbidity and mortality to levels where they no longer constitute a public health problem. Disparities in maternal mortality within countries and between geographical regions, socio- economic and ethnic groups should be narrowed.

8.22. All countries, with the support of all sections of the international community, must expand the provision of maternal health services in the context of primary health care. These services, based on the concept of informed choice, should include education on safe motherhood, prenatal care that is focused and effective, maternal nutrition programmes, adequate delivery assistance that avoids excessive recourse to caesarean sections and provides for obstetric emergencies; referral services for pregnancy, childbirth and abortion complications; post-natal care and family planning. All births should be assisted by trained persons, preferably nurses and midwives, but at least by trained birth attendants. The underlying causes of maternal morbidity and mortality should be identified, and attention should be given to the development of strategies to overcome them and for adequate evaluation and monitoring mechanisms to assess the progress being made in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity and to enhance the effectiveness of ongoing programmes. Programmes and education to engage men's support for maternal health and safe motherhood should be developed.

8.23. All countries, especially developing countries, with the support of the international community, should aim at further reductions in maternal mortality through measures to prevent, detect and manage high-risk pregnancies and births, particularly those to adolescents and late- parity women.

8.24. All countries should design and implement special programmes to address the nutritional needs of women of child-bearing age, especially those who are pregnant or breast-feeding, and should give particular attention to the prevention and management of nutritional anaemia and iodine-deficiency disorders. Priority should be accorded to improving the nutritional and health status of young women through education and training as part of maternal health and safe motherhood programmes. Adolescent females and males should be provided with information, education and counselling to help them delay early family formation, premature sexual activity and first pregnancy.

8.25. In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning. All Governments and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are urged to strengthen their commitment to women's health, to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion as a major public health concern and to reduce the recourse to abortion through expanded and improved family planning services. Prevention of unwanted pregnancies must always be given the highest priority and all attempts should be made to eliminate the need for abortion. Women who have unwanted pregnancies should have ready access to reliable information and compassionate counselling. Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process. In circumstances in which abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe. In all cases women should have access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion. Post-abortion counselling, education and family planning services should be offered promptly which will also help to avoid repeat abortions.

8.26. Programmes to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality should include information and reproductive health services, including family-planning services. In order to reduce high-risk pregnancies, maternal health and safe motherhood programmes should include counselling and family-planning information.

8.27. All countries, as a matter of some urgency, need to seek changes in high- risk sexual behaviour and devise strategies to ensure that men share responsibility for sexual and reproductive health, including family planning, and for preventing and controlling sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection and AIDS.

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