Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Women and health: today's evidence tomorrow's agenda

This WHO report provides the latest and most comprehensive evidence available to date on women's specific needs and health challenges over their entire life-course.

This report commissioned by Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, shows that despite considerable progress in the past decades, societies continue to fail to meet the health care needs of women at key moments of their lives, particularly in their adolescent years and in older age. Disparities continue to exist between the health of women and men, particularly during women's reproductive years. ¨In developing countries, complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death and disability among 15 to 19 year old women. Unsafe abortion contributes substantially to these deaths, Dr Chan underlined at the launch of the report in Geneva on 9 November 2009. The report shows that the most important risk factors for this group are lack of contraception and unsafe sex, resulting in unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and sexually transmitted infections.

The evidence in the report now paves the way for action. The report highlights the importance in improving access to sexual and reproductive health services. Strategies for action include revitalizing primary health care through building strong leadership, enabling responsive health services, access to universal coverage for health care, public policy that reflects the empowerment of women, and improvements in planning, implementing and monitoring progress.