The Green Party has today (May 4th) launched a roadmap for maternal care, calling for urgent action to address the shortfall in services and supports for pregnant women and new mothers. As the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic and the enormous impact it has had on our health services, we need to prioritise women’s health and wellbeing which have been long neglected.
Launching the paper, Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan stated,
“Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 global pandemic, we were all acutely aware of the improvements needed across a range of issues relating to women’s health and wellbeing in Ireland. The arrival of Covid-19 has not only served to exacerbate these deficiencies but also highlighted how fragile these services and supports were to begin with. It is crucial that as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic period, we take a critical look at these vital services and set out a plan to build back better and ensure that we have a robust and resilient system of care and support for women.”
The roadmap lays out a number of key priorities over the next 12 months. These include:
- The creation of a Family Centred Plan for Maternal Care
- A Two-Year Extension and Dedicated Funding Package for the National Breastfeeding Action Plan
- Supporting the Milk Bank Scheme across Ireland
- A Commitment to Reproductive Rights based Healthcare
Senator Pauline O’Reilly commented:
“The roadmap must place families and babies at the heart of decision-making. There are a number of commitments in the Programme for Government that specifically refer to the health of families in the early years of a baby’s life that must be actively progressed in the lifetime of this Government, including supports for perinatal mental health and expanding access to homebirth.
“Throughout the pandemic, the effects of lockdown and the reduction in services has impacted some groups more seriously than others – the road to good health for families and babies must include targeted support for vulnerable groups such as those in the Traveller Community and those living in Direct Provision. We need to create an equal Ireland for every woman.”
The report also highlights that Ireland is far behind its European counterparts in breast feeding rates. Cllr Claire Byrne added:
“Access to information and supports around breastfeeding has been a huge problem for new mothers in this country long before Covid-19, with access to qualified lactation consultants relying on a postcode lottery or the ability to pay in many cases. This is completely unacceptable. There are so many stories of new mothers unable to access any support at all during lockdown, exacerbating feelings of trauma and isolation during such an important time in their lives. We want to see uniformity of access to appropriate breastfeeding supports in every maternity and general hospital and in every Community Health Organisation across the country, regardless of geography or socio-economic status.”
The fourth priority of the roadmap includes a commitment to reproductive rights-based healthcare. Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu stated,
“As the reproductive rights legislation begins its review before the end of 2021 and the agreements to build the new National Maternity Hospital are progressed, it is crucial that we protect our newfound secular, human rights and person-centred approach to healthcare in Ireland. We want to see the hard fought for access to reproductive health for women in Ireland to be built upon, not eroded, as part of this review.
Green Party representatives will be meeting with the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD this week to present the Roadmap on Maternal Care to discuss next steps.
Notes to editor
The Roadmap for Improved Maternal Care in Ireland policy paper is available to download here.