Protecting the health of women and girls across the globe

06 May 2020 | Government

Namibia, together with Canada and 35 countries, issued a joint statement on behalf of the people
and governments of 58 countries, regarding the impact on health systems, economies and the lives,
livelihood and wellbeing of all, particularly older people.
“Responding effectively to this pandemic requires solidarity and cooperation among all
governments, scientists, civil society actors and the private sector,” the statement reads, further
stating that the pandemic makes existing inequalities for women and girls, as well as discrimination
of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty worse.
“Participation, protection and the potential of all women and girls must be at the centre of response
efforts. These efforts must be gender-responsive and consider different impacts surrounding
detection, diagnosis and access to treatment for all women and men,” the statement read.
Along with the restrictive measures designed to limit the spread of the virus, comes an increase in
the risk of domestic violence. “As health and social protection as well as legal systems that protect
all women and girls under normal circumstances are weakened, specific measures should be
implemented to prevent violence against women and girls. We must also assume responsibility for
social protection and ensure adolescent health, rights and wellbeing during the time that schools are
closed. Any restrictions to the enjoyment of human rights should be prescribed by law, and in
accordance with international law and rigorously assessed,” the statement continued.
Furthermore, leaders should recognize the central role of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in health
emergencies and the need for robust health systems to save lives. In this context, sexual health
services are essential.
“We recommit to the immediate implementation of the UHC political declaration by all. Funding
sexual and reproductive health and rights should remain a priority to avoid a rise in maternal and
newborn mortality, increased unmet need for contraception, and an increased number of unsafe
abortions and sexually transmitted infections.”

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