In May 2014, the Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA67.15 on “Strengthening the role of the health system in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children”. It requests the Director-General “to develop, with the full participation of Member States, and in consultation with United Nations organizations, and other relevant stakeholders focusing on the role of the health system, as appropriate, a draft global plan of action to strengthen the role of the health system within a national multisectoral response to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children, building on existing relevant WHO work”. The scope of the global plan of action is guided by resolution WHA67.15. The plan focuses onviolence against women and girls, and against children, while also addressing common actionsrelevant to all types of interpersonal violence. It also addresses interpersonal violence against women and girls, and against children, in situations of humanitarian emergencies and post-conflict settings, recognizing that such violence is exacerbated in these settings. All forms of interpersonal violence lead to negative health outcomes and should be addressed by the health system. However, there are compelling reasons for a particular focus on violence against women and girls, and against children. Women and girls bear an enormous burden of specific types of violence that are rooted in socially accepted gender inequality and discrimination, and are thus sanctioned, despite constituting a violation of their human rights. Because of this, women and girls experience shame and stigma, and the violence often remains hidden. All too often, health and other institutions are slow to recognize and address this violence, and services are not available or have limited capacity. Until recently, violence against women and girls was largely invisible within national and international statistics and surveillance systems. Globally, there is a strong political moment for addressing violence against women and girls in health and development agendas, which offers an opportunity to strengthen awareness of and response to it within the health system.Violence against children (aged 0–18 years), including adolescents, is widespread and constitutes a violation of their human rights. It has lifelong negative consequences, including ill-health, health risk behaviours, and experiencing and perpetrating subsequent violence. In many countries, violence is often considered an acceptable way of disciplining children. Violence against children is often invisible, and few children who experience abuse have access to the programmes and services they need. Increasing attention is now being paid to violence against children, making it an opportune time to raise awareness and strengthen the response of the health system. Responsibility for addressing interpersonal violence rests clearly with national and subnational governments. Addressing such violence requires a multisectoral response, where the health and other sectors need to work together. As the lead agency for health within the United Nations system, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed this global plan of action for Member States in particular, and for national and international partners, using a public health approach and focusing specifically on the role of the health system. Health services and programmes are an appropriate entry point for addressing interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children. Women who experience violence are more likely to use health services than those who do not, although they rarely explicitly disclose violence as the3underlying reason. Health-care providers are often the first point of professional contact for survivors/victims of violence, and yet the underlying violence is often invisible to them. Children who suffer violence also frequently come to the health services without the violence being identified by health workers. The plan of action purposefully focuses on what the health system can do, in collaboration with other sectors and without detriment to the importance of a multisectoral response. The global plan of action is a technical document informed by evidence, best practices and existing WHO technical guidance. It offers a set of practical actions that Member States can take to strengthen their health systems to address interpersonal violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children.The past two decades have seen an increase in the evidence concerning the prevalence of some types of violence against women and girls. More recently, there has also been accumulating evidence on the prevalence of violence against children. However, there is still a lack of evidence on many aspects of different forms of violence, and the science and programmes to address them are still in their initial stages. In addition, policies and programmes to address both, violence against women and girls, and against children, have developed as separate fields. At the level of the health system, injury management, trauma care and mental health services are relevant for all forms of violence, but the sexual and reproductive health consequences of violence against women and girls require particular interventions. The hidden nature of violence against women and girls, and against children requires specific training of providers in how to identify these problems. Therefore, the nature of guidance that the global plan of action provides is different across these forms of violence. The global plan of action is linked to several other World Health Assembly resolutions, global action plans and strategies, as well as to other work of WHO . It builds on and links with the numerous other efforts across the United Nations system to address violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children . This includes the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the outcome documents of their review conferences, and all relevant treaties and conventions, resolutions and declarations by the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, as well as the relevant Commission on the Status of Women agreed conclusions, among others . The global plan of action is also aligned with several of the goals and targets proposed for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . The global plan of action is not intended to be a comprehensive multisectoral or United Nationswide plan. Rather, this plan addresses the specific mandate of WHO and focuses on the health system component of a multisectoral response. In doing so, the plan takes cognizance of the roles and mandates of the different United Nations organizations in coordinating and leading wider multisectoral efforts to address violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children.
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