WONCA adds name to family violence statement

At the recent WHO executive board (EB) meeting in Geneva, WONCA was represented by President Michael Kidd, President Elect, Amanda Howe, and WONCA -WHO Liaison, Lusia Pettigrew. They added WONCA's name to a statement being made to the WHO EB - on family violence - by World Medical Association and International Federation of Medical Students' Association, both of which are Organizations in Collaborative Relationship with WONCA.

The statement read as follows:

Honourable members of the Executive Board,

Thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of World Medical Association (WMA), the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) and the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) representing millions of doctors and young people worldwide.

We welcome the report by the secretariat as well as the draft resolution on the role of the health system in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls. We deplore the costs of violence, its devastating health consequences to the women, their children and to the society as a whole. Violence against women being a manifestation of structural inequalities between women and men, we recall the “urgent need for the universal application to women of the rights and principles with regard to equality, security, liberty, integrity and dignity of all human beings » as stated by the UN Declaration for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 1993. We therefore fully support WHO’s activities to combat violence through multi-sectoral approaches. However, we believe that more is to be done.

Doctors have a unique role to play in combating one of the most severe human rights violations. They see the health problems individuals face in the context of that person, their family, community, workplace, living conditions and all the other complex factors that affect their health. The views of doctors and other relevant health professionals must therefore be incorporated systematically into any comprehensive strategies to prevent and respond to violence.

Furthermore, doctors and other health professionals are at the frontline in the provision of comprehensive services in support of victims, so that violence is identified, documented and victims rehabilitated. We believe that specific, accessible and affordable training must therefore be further developed in medical schools and in the framework of Continuing Professional Development. Such a requirement should be reflected into Member States, WHO and other international agencies commitments to stop violence.

Finally, given the alarming rate of sexual violence in humanitarian emergency situations, we demand to Members States, WHO and other relevant UN agencies to strengthen their response to violence against women and girls in situations of conflicts, as a matter of urgency.