A Unified Front: Striving for Women’s Health Through Comprehensive Services

Recently, IWHC President Adrienne Germain and IWHC Consultant Ruth Dixon-Mueller published a Comment in the Lancet entitled “HIV is the biggest killer of women—but is it?” The Comment was originally published in the Lancet Volume 375, Issue 9726 , May 2010. To access the entire article on the website of the Lancet, click here (paid subscription required).

To date, this Comment has generated much discussion among the global health community. On behalf of Adrienne and for IWHC, we would like to make some clarifying points to the conversation generated by the Comment:

  • In the Lancet piece, we are calling for more attention, not less, to a comprehensive approach to women’s health and well-being.  The full sexual and reproductive rights and health package that we promote includes maternity care (ante and post natal care, skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care), access to safe abortion, comprehensive prevention and treatment for HIV and all other STIs (including HPV and the associated cervical cancer), access to contraception, and programs that address violence against women, buttressed by comprehensive sexuality education that promotes human rights and gender equality.  On their own, each one of these services is not sufficient.
  • HIV is a sexual and reproductive rights and health issue.  Women are dying from ill sexual and reproductive health (HIV, cervical cancer, STIs, maternal mortality).  The point of the piece published in the Lancet is as follows: “Globally, failure to provide women with high-quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, combined with factors that prevent them from negotiating protection from HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and unwanted sex, are the leading causes of death and disease in women of reproductive age.” Violations of the human rights of women and girls exacerbate these problems and hamper utilization of health services.
  • We are advocating for all women, and policies and programs that meet their full health needs and protect their rights in recognition of the underlying commonalities in women’s lives. We  agree that we all need to work together in calling for integrated services based on strong health systems.  That’s why, for example, we work in a coalition to ensure that the US Global Health Initiative is funded at levels needed to meet its stated goals.

In the spirit of hearing all of your opinions and thoughts, we invite you to continue this conversation by commenting on this blog post.    We think that instituting a dialogue around issues of global importance that have too often been discussed solely on listserves and in private emails is a disservice to our social movements.

We hope you will contribute!



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