Health systems have a crucial role in a multisector response to violence against women. Some countries have guidelines or protocols articulating this role and health-care workers are trained in some settings, but generally system development and implementation have been slow to progress. Substantial system and behavioural barriers exist, especially in low-income and middle-income countries. Violence against women was identified as a health priority in 2013 guidelines published by WHO and the 67th World Health Assembly resolution on strengthening the role of the health system in addressing violence, particularly against women and girls. In this Series paper, we review the evidence for clinical interventions and discuss components of a comprehensive health-system approach that helps health-care providers to identify and support women subjected to intimate partner or sexual violence. Five country case studies show the diversity of contexts and pathways for development of a health system response to violence against women. Although additional research is needed, strengthening of health systems can enable providers to address violence against women, including protocols, capacity building, effective coordination between agencies, and referral networks.
Copyright © 2015 World Health Organization. Published by Elsevier Ltd/Inc/BV. All rights reserved. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.