Women and Health

It has often been said that the health of a nation can be measured by the health of its women, and indeed, women’s health is a key indicator of overall equity in a health system.  Yet, of all the Millennium Development Goals, those associated with women’s health are the least far along, despite being some of the most achievable in terms of technical knowledge and resources.

When Dr. Margaret Chan took office as Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), she committed to having the Organization’s performance measured by its impact on two critical issues: the health of women and the people of Africa.  She has placed great importance in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and targets, including those for improving maternal health and for universal access to reproductive health.  Dr. Chan is committed to improving the availability and quality of statistics and evidence, including through the establishment of a Global Health Observatory. 

As a first step in raising awareness of this critical issue, in November 2009 WHO launched a new report entitled Women and Health: Today’s Evidence; Tomorrow’s Agenda.  This is the first comprehensive report focused on women’s health needs and their contribution to the health of societies.  The Women and Health report intends to achieve the following objectives:

  • Identify areas where better information including national, regional and international policy dialogues, could result in more effective approaches to improving the health of women.
  • Show the relevance of the primary health care reforms identified in The World Health Report 2008: Primary Health Care (Now More Than Ever), particularly the importance of political and institutional leadership when it comes to women’s health.
  • Set out what the implications of the report are in terms of data collection, analysis and dissemination.

The report presents the findings in a life-course approach which intends to show how interventions throughout a female’s life, specifically from birth through the reproductive years, affect health later in life and across generations.  The report also highlights the interplay of biological and social determinants of women’s health to show that women’s health needs go beyond sexual and reproductive concerns, while making the case that women must be centrally involved in the design, management and delivery of health services. 

Promoting Women’s Health under MLI

As the government appointees charged with setting national health agendas, Ministers of Health are well positioned to collaborate at high levels with the WHO to collectively support Dr. Chan’s prioritization of women’s health issues. Therefore, MLI, through its partnership with the Council of Women World Leaders and WHO, is helping to engage ministerial leaders in our 5 MLI countries to organize regional policy dialogues around the evidence and recommendations presented in the Women and Health report, thereby raising awareness about the report and fostering critical policy discussion on key health issues affecting women.

  • MLI Voices

    Jun 22 2009 - 4:25pm

    Sierra Leone

    Even though I have worked in Sierra Leone in the past, the role of MLI Country Lead has given me the opportunity to build upon these previous experiences and to work closely with members of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), to support the implementation of health policies and reforms that they have prioritized.


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