Member States call for a World Health Assembly resolution on violence
In the context of the 134th session of the WHO Executive Board, which took place from 20-25 January, governments discussed ways to increase the health sector's efforts to address violence. During the week several meetings took place to gather views on a draft resolution on this topic. The Executive Board encouraged Member States to engage in further consultations to finalize the draft resolution in the coming months, with a view to it being considered by the 67th World Health Assembly in May 2014.
More than 20 Member States are co-sponsoring the draft resolution calling on WHO to increase its work on interpersonal violence prevention, with a particular focus on violence against women and children. Thirty-one Member States, some speaking on behalf of regional groupings such as the WHO African Region and the European Union, voiced strong support for the need for a resolution, including the Governments of Albania, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Namibia, Norway, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Switzerland, the United States of America, Uruguay, and Zambia.
Several nongovernmental organizations also expressed their backing of the steps taken towards a World Health Assembly resolution. During the discussion Member States voiced their strong commitment to increase the health sector's response to all forms of violence and in particular violence against women and children. They stressed the need to improve data collection and services for those affected, but also strengthen the focus on prevention and advocacy.
Across the world, each year, nearly 1.4 million people lose their lives to violence. For every person who dies as a result of violence, many more are injured and suffer from a range of physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems. While more men than women die due to violence, some types of violence affect in particular women and girls. One in three women experience violence by an intimate partner at least once in their life.
Violence places a massive burden on national economies, costing countries billions of US dollars each year in health care, law enforcement and lost productivity. The draft resolution, which follows World Health Assembly resolutions from 1996 and 1997 recognizing violence as a public health problem, and a World Health Assembly resolution from 2003, urging Member States to implement the recommendations of the landmark World report on violence and health, seeks to scale up work on this important public health problem.