WHO official calls for investing in women’s health on Women's Day

WHO official calls for investing in women’s health on Women's Day

On International Women's Day (IWD), as the global community reaffirms its resolve to achieve gender equality, Ms. Saima Wazed, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, calls for prioritizing investments in women to accelerate progress, particularly in enhancing women's health.

Wazed underscores the need for increased investment in health, as the Southeast Asia region allocates only 2.9pc of GDP to healthcare, lagging behind the global average of 4pc. High expenditures dissuade families from seeking essential care, disproportionately affecting women who often bear the responsibility of caregiving within households, she regrets.

She says despite advancements in areas like antenatal care, family planning, and skilled attendance during deliveries, disparities persist based on location, education, and income levels. She deplores that the existing policies often overlook women's autonomy in sexual and reproductive health decisions, perpetuating gender disparities in health outcomes.

WHO official adds that women encounter barriers to accessing healthcare services, exacerbated by factors such as a shortage of female health providers, transportation challenges, and limited decision-making authority.

She warns that violence against women remains prevalent, with more than one in three women in the region experiencing intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

To address these challenges, she suggests evidence-based gender-responsive health policies and programs, necessitating strengthened implementation.

Wazed announces the development of a priority programme focusing on women and children to tackle these issues, emphasizing the multigenerational benefits of investing in women's health on public health, childhood development, and societal and economic advancement.

She says prioritizing women's health not only ensures better outcomes for present and future generations but also empowers women to disseminate knowledge and practices within their communities.

On this International Women's Day, Wazed reaffirms her commitment to assisting countries in the Southeast Asia region in increasing investment in women's health and well-being, thereby advancing progress towards gender equality.