The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has launched a recent report assessing the status of health sector responses to rising violences against women, and called on nations to accelerate the complete implementation of strategies to address the pervasive public health & human rights problem in the region of Americas.
“Addressing violence against women in health policies & protocols in the Americas: a regional status report” is the very initial of its kind. It also reviews policies in PAHO’s 35 Member States & also offers a proper roadmap for health systems to join a multisectoral effort to manage this issue.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), around one(1) out of every three(3) American women are victims of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. And moreover, most common form of violence is Intimate partner violence, and it is estimated that over 66 million women have experienced this form of violence in the region.
Meanwhile, Director of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, Dr Anselm Hennis noted that, “We know that violence is preventable, because of which the sheer number of women & girls affected by this is particularly shocking. We know more than ever before about what works to stop violence against women, so this situation is unacceptable.
“Moreover, the repercussions of brutality against women are devastating, not only for their individual health & well-being, but for entire families & communities. Consequences include a wide range of physical, sexual, reproductive & mental health problems.
The health sector has a vital role to play in controlling the impact of violence against women & the new report emphasizes that 83% of PAHO Member States have added this issue to their health plans or policies.
Regional Advisor on Violence Prevention at PAHO, Britta Baer, said that, “Making violence against women visible & including it in national health policies & plans sets the tone for engagement on this integral topic. Often without a guidance & policies from health ministries, the issue is not prioritized by governments.”
As health workers mostly treat survivors of violence & are seen as trusted individuals, the report noted their key role in early intervention & in the provision of essential care as well as support. For this to work, however, health workers needed a proof-based protocol.
The report shows that 60% of countries in the region have at least one such protocol but warns that more needs to be done to enhance their quality and to align them with best practices, Baer explained, especially for first-line support.