Strengthening health sector response to gender based violence
19 August 2019
Belgrade, 6 October 2016 - More than half of adult women in Serbia were exposed to some form of domestic violence during their lifetime. This is one of the devastating statistics mentioned today in Belgrade at opening of the training health sector response to gender based violence.
“Not only that gender based violence is a human rights violations, it is also one of the biggest public health concerns world wide”, stated Ms Marija Rakovic, Programme Coordinator at UNFPA in Serbia. “Gender based violence undermines women’s health, and as such it can have severe consequences to sexual and reproductive health of women”.
9% of women in Serbia who suffered physical or sexual violence rated their health as poor or very poor compared to 4% of never-abused women. Women who had ever been pregnant and who suffered partner violence had more abortions (65% versus 46%) and were more likely to have had a child who died (5% versus 2%) .
Dr Vesna Knjeginjic, Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia greeted the participants and emphasized the importance of these type of educations. “Health care providers have encountered cases of gender based violence so far, and, unfortunately, they will continue to see these cases in their daily practice. Therefore, it is important that we continue strengthening their capacities to provide adequate response within their professional responsibilities “.
“We should also be aware that the health sector is a critical entry point for identifying violence, providing medical care to women and girls survivors and referring them to other essential services, such as shelters, counselling centers or specialized medical care. For many survivors of violence, a visit to a health professional is the first, and sometimes only, step enabling them to access support and care”, adds Ms. Rakovic.
Dr Stanislava Otašević from the Center for Women's Health Promotion announced that the goal of such events among other things, is to send a message to the citizens that health care institutions are a place where they can openly talk about the violence and that health workers document the existence of violence and its consequences. Health care workers are obliged to respect the confidentiality of statements and feelings of the patient, and provide unbiased assistance and conduct an assessment together with the woman to find out what are their rights while addressing the police, social welfare centers and other institutions that are required to protect them. "Most importantly, women have the right to require that the health worker reports violence to be protected," added Dr. Otašević.
The training program is the result of cooperation and partnership of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Centre for the Promotion of Women's Health, to improve the knowledge and skills of health workers in Serbia that directly provide health services or health managersof whose good and harmonious cooperation depends promotion and improvement of the health system response to gender-based violence.
 WHO, Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women. Available at http://www.who.int/gender/violence/who_multicountry_study/summary_repor…