WHO Calls For Action to Improve Women's Health
GENEVA, 10 November 2009-Societies continue to fail to meet the health needs of women at key moments of their lives, particularly in their adolescent years and in older age, a World Health Organization (WHO) report has found.
Launching the report, entitled Women and health: today's evidence tomorrow's agenda, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan called for urgent action both within the health sector and beyond to improve the health and lives of girls and women around the world, from birth to older age.
"If women are denied a chance to develop their full human potential, including their potential to lead healthier and at least somewhat happier lives, is society as a whole really healthy? What does this say about the state of social progress in the 21st century?" asked Dr Chan.
Worldwide, women provide the bulk of health care-whether in the home, the community or the health system-yet their own specific health needs and challenges are not addressed throughout their lives.
Up to 80% of all health care and 90% of care for HIV/AIDS-related illness is provided in the home-almost always by women. Yet more often than not, they go unsupported, unrecognized and unremunerated in this essential role.
When it comes to meeting women's health care needs, some services, such as care during pregnancy, are more likely to be in place than those covering issues such as mental health, sexual violence and screening and treatment for cervical cancer.
However, in many countries, sexual and reproductive health services tend to focus exclusively on married women and ignore the needs of unmarried women and adolescents. Few services cater for other marginalized groups of women such as sex workers, intravenous drug users, ethnic minorities and rural women