Now that we’ve discussed in closer detail the challenges women and children face and the objectives we’ve set to combat these issues, it’s time to take a look at perhaps the most important component - what actions will be taken to ensure we reach our goals? In their annual report, EWEC Global Strategies delves into 9 specific action area that focus on a comprehensive human-rights based approach to tackling these problems.
Strong political leadership is needed to serve as a stable foundation on which health systems can be built. With this foundation, cooperation between different sectors, increased management capacity, increased funding, a well-equipped workforce, and comprehensive, and relevant legislation all become much more realistic and doable.
Financing for health
Especially in low- and middle-income countries, existing funds are nowhere near required funds for all the goals outlined in EWEC Global Strategies. One of the main goals here is to make sure that existing resources are being allocated and used as efficiently as possible.
Health system resilience
A robust health system means employment opportunities that can drive socioeconomic development, the ability to withstand emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak, and long-term sustainable financing. To achieve this, the health workforce must be trained to provide quality care for everyone, and everyone should have access to universal healthcare, including preventative services, interventions, and life-saving commodities.
Each individual can be her or his own best advocate for improving their own health and circumstance, if their country’s leaders invest in an enabling environment. Leaders must invest in child and adolescent development programs and protect from violence and discrimination.
It’s been shown in many different settings all over the world that community engagement is incredibly effective because people tend to trust those they grew up around or with whom they share a common interest or identity. For this to work, all groups must be included and their roles recognized and women and girls especially must be able to safely and respectably work alongside men and boys in the community.
The roots of health issues are rarely isolated or even within the health sector. A multi-sector approach and a government that is able to facilitate this cooperation is necessary to truly effectively eradicate.
Humanitarian and fragile settings
Though never easy, these goals become even more difficult in fragile settings, but these are also places that most desperately need change. This means working even more effectively and fully integrating emergency response into health plans to ensure that the very specific needs of women, children, and adolescents are met in crisis situations.
Research and innovation
It’s been shown that research can be just as important as financial resources, and governments need to continue investing in research, linking evidence to policy, and actively scale new findings accordingly to reduce inequities in health. Special care needs to be taken to make sure local needs are studied and met.
Accountability for results, resources, and rights
At the end of the day, it’s about accountability and keeping track of what is working, what isn’t, and what needs special attention. Standardized and consistent reporting and monitoring is very important, as is strengthening civil registration and vital statistics. Births and deaths and related information is needed to properly identify and tackle issues in maternal and child health.
Jean M. Bouquet, DO, is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Co-Director of the Urban Underserved Track at the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is the founder of the Bouquet Speculum, an innovative and FDA-cleared medical device that helps to screen women for cervical cancer. Dr. Bouquet also started the Cure Cervical Cancer nonprofit. The following blog post was written by Dr. Bouquet about his journey to creating the Bouquet Speculum.
Dr. Daniel Kimani is a trained and licensed medical officer in Kenya, holding a Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery, and a post-graduate certificate on basic oncology training. Dr. Kimani is the founder of the Global Cancer Care and Research Institute, and is an expert in clinical colposcopy — a procedure to examine the cervix, vagina, and vulva.