Development of a new child and adolescent health strategy in the Republic of Moldova
To help improve noncommunicable disease (NCD) prevention and control, the Republic of Moldova is developing a new strategy for child and adolescent health and development (CAHD). A policy dialogue on integrating gender, equity and rights in the new strategy, in line with the principles of the European policy framework Health 2020, was organized on 27 May 2014 by the Ministry of Health with WHO/Europe support. The event brought together representatives from the ministries of health, social affairs, education, youth and sports, as well as the youth-friendly health services network, youth and gender equality organizations, inter-agency partners and development agencies.
Added value of new approach
It was noted that gender, equity and human rights provide a useful platform from which to coordinate a more multisectoral response to CAH and NCDs, bringing together partners from the ministries of health and social affairs but also from the Parliamentary level. The dialogue provided practical illustrations of the gender, equity and rights dimensions of CAH and NCDs, such as the importance of youth participation to ensure programmes are tailored to their needs, and the significant inequities in health outcomes that have been identified. A gender, equity and rights lens also helps stakeholders ask the right questions: who is being left behind, why, and what can we do about it?
Participants focused on several subjects, including:
- sharing knowledge on ongoing initiatives across sectors and at different levels of government on how gender, equity and rights approaches to NCD prevention and control can contribute to and strengthen the current CAHD Strategy development process;
- recommendations on how improved collection and use of sex disaggregated data, strengthened collaboration across sectors, active participation of youth organizations, and information, education and community mobilization activities can further support both CAHD strategy development and implementation.
Need for more data to address gender differences
While much data is available, more is needed to fully understand gender differences and apply this knowledge to guide further actions. For example, there is 8 years’ difference in life expectancy between women and men; maternal mortality in the Republic of Moldova is 5 times the European average; the ratio of suicide among boys and girls is 5 to 1; rates of sexually transmitted infections and HIV are higher for boys, but growing for girls.
Other key challenges included how to encourage young people to recognize their own vulnerability to NCDs and to act upon this, as well as ensuring coherence across sectors and partners to deliver messages on health.
Ongoing WHO support
WHO/Europe will continue to support the strategy development process and its further implementation after approval. This support will include technical assistance on gender-, equity- and rights-based approaches to child and adolescent health, as well as specific support on strengthening health sector capacities in responding to violence against women, as part of an intersectoral response.
These activities are part of a WHO global learning exchange documenting the integration of gender, equity and rights in WHO support to countries. This is one component of a larger initiative on mainstreaming gender, equity and rights into WHO work supported by the Canadian International Development Agency.