High-level Meeting on maternal health and refugee women

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The President of Malta and EU Commissioner urge EU countries to take effective action to ensure maternal health for refugee women

(News post here)

The Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP), under the patronage of H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta, and in collaboration with MSD for Mothers, organised a high-level meeting on Maternal Health and Refugee Women.

This event convened Parliamentarians from across Europe as well as other relevant stakeholders. Speakers included the H.E. President of Malta, the Minister for Health of Malta, Hon. Christopher Fearne, Commissioner for Health, Vytenis Andriukaitis, among many others.

The health of mother and child remains a critical concern, not only in the developing world but also in Europe. Many women are still unable to gain access to timely and quality healthcare with refugee women being placed in a particularly vulnerable situation. However, maternal health is often taking a lower spot on the healthcare agenda.

Within the framework of Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, the objective of this meeting was to place maternal health high on the agenda both in national and EU context. It also aims to inform and empower female Parliamentarians to drive this topic in their respective Parliaments.

The two-day study trip included interactive working sessions and a field visit to an Open Refugee Centre. The event brought together in an innovative, participatory way a range of stakeholder profiles as the President of Malta, Maltese national representatives, EU high-level authorities as the Commission for Health and the European Asylum Support Officer Executive Director, Parliamentarians from different EU member states (Italy, Spain, Romania, Croatia, Poland and Malta) as well as different outstanding experts and Civil Society Organisations.

These were some of the specific goals of this event: agree on a long term vision for maternal health in Europe, exchange best practices from the national level, address the links between the EU and the member states, identify what concrete policies should the EU and national institutions take in order to ensure that every woman in Europe has affordable access to high quality maternal healthcare, with a special focus on migrant and refugee women.

In the picture: President and Minister of Health of Malta; EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; and Silvana Koch-Merin

Feedback from the meeting: The President of Malta and the EU Commissioner urge EU countries to take effective action to ensure maternal health for refugee women

  • The Commissioner for Health commits to appeal to EU countries to do more to guarantee better maternal health for refugees
  • A Call for Action with the outcome proposals of this high-level conference will be put forward to the European Commission and the Council of Health Ministers
  • Maltese President Coleiro Preca urges EU Commissioner and Maltese Minister of Health “to move the EU from words to action”
  • Nearly 1800 maternal deaths occurred in Europe in 2015

More info:


  • E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca,  President of Malta
  • Christopher Fearne, Minister for Health of Malta
  • Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
  • Jose Carreira, European Asylum Support Officer Executive Director
  • Nikitas Kanakis, Secretary General Medecins du Monde
  • Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Founder and President of Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL)
  • Mary-Ann Etiebet, Executive Director of MSD for Mothers
  • Linda Lanzillotta, Vice President of the Italian Senate
  • Ines Strenja Linic, Doctor of Medicine, Chair of the Health and Social Policy Committee, Croatia
  • Claudette Buttigieg, Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister for Health, Malta
  • Dr Elena Grech, Head of European Commission Permanent Representation in Malta
  • Dr Justyne Caruana, Parliamentary Secretary for Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Aging, WIP Ambassador, Malta
  • Mervi Jokinen, President, European Midwife Association
  • Regina Catrambone, Founder and Director of Migrant Offshore Aid Station