Complications during childbirth and pregnancy are a main source
of death and disability among women of reproductive age.
Approximately 536,000 women die from pregnancy-related
complications each year. Developing countries suffer most
profoundly, accounting for 99% of deaths. The world's nations, by
endorsing U.N. Millennium Development Goals, recognized that
most deaths are preventable; they have pledged to reduce maternal
mortality by 75% by 2015. This Article assesses the barriers
presented by user fees - formal charges for health services still
charged by many countries - to the attainment of MDGs. It shows
that user fees hamper healthcare access, particularly in emergencycare
settings, and fail in meeting their intended purposes of
generating funds and improving equity, quality and
decentralization of health care. The Article analyzes fees' adverse
impact through a human rights lens that privileges each woman
with an assessment of her health, unlike the MDGs which assess
aggregate improvements and benchmarks. Finally, the Article
explores alternatives to user fees, including universal health
insurance schemes, tax schemes, and debt forgiveness programs
and policies. It offers a guiding framework for assessing health
financing systems - a framework that is centered on the needs of
the poorest and most marginalized community members and that
Hall, Margaux J.; Ahmed, Aziza; and Swanson, Stephanie E.
"Answering the Millennium Call for the Right to Maternal Health: The Need to Eliminate User Fees,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol12/iss1/2