The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights grants urgent measures to protect the rights of women and girls in Venezuela

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Publicado el: 21 de marzo de 2019

  • An international human rights organization and four Venezuelan organizations*, united in a coalition called Red Equivalencias en Acción, presented a request for precautionary measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, seeking to protect pregnant Venezuelan women who go to Maternidad Concepción Palacios, a hospital in Caracas, for healthcare services.
  • The human rights body determined that the rights of women and their newborn babies were at grave risk and asked the Venezuelan State to adopt the measures necessary to protect their lives and health.

Caracas, March 21, 2019. In Venezuela, low-income women and their newborn babies are at risk of dying due to deficiencies in the healthcare system. Others are forced to migrate to other countries to obtain the medical care they need. In light of this situation, and at the request of a coalition of women’s rights and human rights organizations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted urgent protective measures for Maternidad Concepción Palacios, one of the most emblematic public hospitals in the country, located in Caracas, that primarily serves women living in poverty.

In 2018, due to the inadequate conditions at Maternidad Concepción Palacios, 15 women who went there to seek pregnancy-related care died. If in addition to this figure we consider the increase in maternal deaths in the country, which rose by 65% between 2015 and 2016, we get an idea of the impact that the humanitarian crisis has had on healthcare services for women.

It is unacceptable that the State is letting pregnant women and newborn children die, as these deaths are preventable, according to the organizations who presented the request. Furthermore, an increase in maternal death is a globally recognized indicator of failing healthcare systems and the disproportionate impact they have on the women who must access them. Given these conditions, it is no surprise that nearly 800,000 pregnant Venezuelan women have gone to Colombia in search of healthcare services. Similarly, the Brazilian state of Roraima, which borders Venezuela, has seen a significant increase in births by Venezuelan women since 2015.

Specific measures for Maternidad Concepción Palacios

Maternidad Concepción Palacios used to tend to 1200 women per month, but it is currently operating at half capacity due to the lack of medical supplies, medications, cleaning and disinfection supplies, reliable sources of water and electricity, and medical staff, particularly anesthesiologists, among other reasons.

The current state of care available at Maternidad Concepción Palacios reflects the reality facing pregnant women throughout the country. Therefore, the protective measures the IACHR has ordered are a valuable tool for starting to work now, in the midst of the crisis, to address the serious risks to the life and health of Venezuelan women and their newborn children, particularly low-income women whose only options are going to a public hospital or leaving the country.

As a first step toward solving this problem, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered the State to do the following:

  • Provide the hospital with medical supplies and medications and ensure the consistent availability of the healthcare professionals required for the adequate provision of services for women.
  • Guarantee appropriate pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum medical care, including for newborns, and the provision of pregnancy-related services, which includes access to contraceptives, prenatal checkups, and post-abortion care.
  • Ensure appropriate hygiene conditions in the hospital, including sufficient resources (water, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, etc.).

These urgent measures are vital for ensuring that the violations of the rights of women and girls do not remain invisible, as is too often the case in humanitarian crises.

*The Venezuelan organizations Cepaz, Mujeres en Línea, Avesa, and Freya, along with the international organization Women’s Link Worldwide, requested protective measures for Maternidad Concepción Palacios from the IACHR.

Download the summary of the IACHR resolution:

Download the press kit:

For more information:

Sergio Camacho (Colombia)

+57 350 8347288

Carolina Dueñas (Colombia)

+57 301 5507330

Laura Martínez (Spain)

+34 699 984 800 

Auraelena Salazar (Venezuela)

+58 -424 1610522


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