WHO Regions Collaborate to Improve Health Care Response to Violence Against Women
World Health Organization (WHO) regional offices for Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean have embarked on a joint initiative to improve the skills of health-care professionals who care for women survivors of physical and/or sexual violence.
In the WHO European Region alone, 1 in 4 women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence or both in their lifetime.
According to a statement from WHO, women and girls globally face different forms of violence, including domestic abuse, rape, sexual violence, emotional/psychological abuse, and trafficking. Such violence is rooted in gender inequalities and discrimination within societal structures.
Health-care professionals are often the first responders to violence against women and are frequently asked to meet the immediate emotional/psychological and physical health needs, and ongoing safety, support, and mental health needs, of women survivors.
This “training of trainers” aimed to provide practical, hands-on skills to health facility managers, ministry of health officials, civil society representatives, and non-profit organizations who are responsible for the training of health-care staff.
Held in Tunis, Tunisia, last year, the training drew on existing WHO tools and guidance to empower health-care professionals from 12 countries across the 2 regions when responding to all forms of violence against women.
According to the WHO, violence against women has deep, long-lasting effects on survivors. It also hinders societal and economic progress, resulting in a loss of human capital and reduced quality of life. Humanitarian and health crises further exacerbate these issues, introducing new dimensions of violence.
Anna Rita Ronzoni, Technical Officer for gender-based violence in emergencies with WHO in the Eastern European Region said, ‘Despite the many challenges affecting the Eastern Mediterranean Region, hosting this training in Tunis has been instrumental to advocate for a sustainable approach to the health system response to gender-based violence.’
The initiative was based on ‘Strengthening health systems to respond to women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence: a manual for health managers,’ a comprehensive resource that provides key insights and strategies for health-care professionals.
The manual provides operational “how to” guidance to health managers for designing and planning services to meet the immediate emotional/psychological and physical health needs, and the ongoing safety, support, and mental health needs, of women who have been subjected to violence. It offers easy steps, practical tips, and job aids to help plan and manage services.