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Lancet. 2015 Apr 18;385(9977):1567-79. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61837-7. Epub 2014 Nov 21.

The health-systems response to violence against women.

Author information

Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address:
General Practice and Primary Health Care Academic Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Centre for Interdisciplinary Trauma Research, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Erratum in


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.

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