Women Health Ministers Form Network To Address Women’s Health Issues, Including HIV/AIDS
Women health ministers from countries around the world on Tuesday formed an international network to address the inequalities women experience in accessing basic health care services, including HIV/AIDS prevention and care, according to a Council of Women World Leaders release. The ministers discussed the issue at an "unprecedented" meeting organized by CWWL, a network of current and former women heads of state, during the 57th World Health Assembly, according to the release. CWWL -- which is chaired by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and United Nations high commissioner for human rights -- aims to promote effective governance and improve the experience of democracy worldwide by increasing the number, effectiveness and visibility of women in leadership positions in countries around the world. The newly established network -- called the Network of Women Health Ministers -- will include current women health ministers, women leaders of multilateral and regional organizations and representatives from select nongovernmental organizations. During the meeting, the network agreed to focus on several health issues facing women, including high maternal mortality and morbidity rates, the need for improved reproductive health care and HIV prevention services and the health impact of violence against women, according to the release.
"The foundation of a Network of Women Ministers of Health will serve as a platform for the ministers to exchange ideas as they work toward solutions for critical health issues that impact women and girls," CWWL Secretary-General Laura Liswood said, adding, "It will provide opportunities to discuss and develop recommendations and programs for practical health solutions to the varied challenges confronting nations and the world." UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Kathleen Cravero said, "As HIV spreads into uncharted territory, women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of AIDS care." She added that she is "certain [the network] will make a difference in mobilizing governments and communities worldwide to improve the daily lives of women and girls" (CWWL release, 5/18). "To fight AIDS effectively, we have to understand the reality of women's lives," UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said, adding that the network "will act as a catalyst for ensuring that women and girls have access to basic health care, including urgently needed HIV care and prevention services" (UNAIDS release, 5/18). UNAIDS and Finland's Ministry of Social Affairs and Health provided support for the meeting, according to the release (CWWL release, 5/18).