Sexual and reproductive health

World Health Assembly adopts a historic resolution that addresses violence against women and girls

Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata speech to 67th World Health Assembly

WHO Member States adopted a resolution to strengthen the role of the health system in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children at the 67th World Health Assembly. Globally, one in three women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at least once in their life. Violence has a range of adverse physical, including sexual and reproductive health, and mental health outcomes for women and girls.

Gender-based violence is not just a socio cultural issue but a public health problem

Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata

The resolution requests Member States to: ensure access to timely, effective and affordable health services, particularly sexual and reproductive health; improve the collection and dissemination of comparable data; enhance capacities to respond to and prevent such violence; and establish and support standard operating procedures aimed at identifying victims of violence and providing effective and appropriate services. It also requests the Director-General to develop a “global plan of action to strengthen the role of health systems to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children”.

The resolution adds legitimacy to addressing violence against women and girls as a public health problem and provides WHO a clear mandate for addressing this problem by building on on-going efforts. Dr Christine Kaseba-Sata – the First Lady of Zambia and WHO’s Goodwill Ambassador on Gender-Based Violence was the key-note speaker at this WHA. She spoke eloquently about the importance of addressing violence against women and girls, a gender equality and rights perspective and the role of the health sector in addressing gender-based violence

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