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Strengthening Health System’s Response to Gender Based Violence

Sama’s initiative towards strengthening Health System Response to Gender Based Violence (GBV) addresses an area that is often neglected or inadequately addressed in public health policy and practice. GBV can have physical and psychological health implications which can be immediate as well as long term. Health system is often the first point of contact for survivors of violence; besides survivors come in contact with health facilities and health providers at some point in their lives. Thus health care facilities and providers assumes an important role in addressing the health consequences of violence through provision of treatment and care, performing medico‐legal role as well as in prevention of violence. Sama believes that this potential role in preventing and addressing GBV at different levels of the health system can be achieved through wide ranging and multi-sectoral deliberations. Given this context, Sama has been working towards recognizing gender based violence as a public health issue and strengthening health sector response to the survivors. Sama’s focused work and engagement has facilitated insights, learning and linkages with multiple stakeholders in Delhi as well as in other states. Within this initiative Sama has been engaging with various stakeholders including the Community Based Organisations, Sangathans, networks, like minded individuals and organisations, Health facilities at different levels- primary, secondary, tertiary, healthcare providers including doctors and nurses, community health workers, associations like AOGD (Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Delhi), lawyers, protection officers etc. Sama’s initiatives in this regard were framed at different levels – at the level of the health care facilities as well as at the level of community based health care.

Using the core strategies of Capacity building, Policy monitoring and advocacy, Knowledge creation and dissemination and undertaking Study/ Assessment, the following initiatives have largely been undertaken:

Capacity Building: Building capacities of grassroots organizations and health workers towards strengthening policy advocacy and action for enhanced recognition of GBV as a public health issueThese capacity building initiatives in different states have facilitated in strengthening of knowledge and understanding on issues of GBV towards advancing policy advocacy and action for recognizing GBV as a public health issue.

Policy Monitoring and Advocacy: As a part of this, Sama has provided critical feedback, reviews and recommendations towards improving or strengthening proposed policy frameworks or protocols.

Studies/Situational assessments: Sama has been carrying out situational, needs assessments, formative research at different levels of healthcare system vis-à-vis response to GBV.

Knowledge creation and dissemination: Sama has also been developing information resources, including posters and information booklets to facilitate wider access to knowledge on some of the relevant issues on GBV.