GHC WHA Statement on Agenda Item 12.3 – Draft global plan of action on violence

Chairperson, Honorable Ministers, distinguished delegates, colleagues:

Thank you for the opportunity to deliver this statement on behalf of the Global Health Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We strongly support the recommendation to urge Member States to strengthen the role of the health system within a national multisectoral response to address interpersonal violence. Particular attention should be given to the needs of women and girls and of all children including girls and boys. We recognize the important role of the health system in identifying, preventing and responding to violence, as well as to its role in referring survivors to other services.

Exposure to maltreatment including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; neglect; and deprivation is associated with high-risk behaviors such as smoking, the harmful use of alcohol, drug abuse and eating disorders. Child survivors may also confront the long-term impacts of toxic stress—meaning strong, frequent, or prolonged activation of the body’s stress response systems without the protection offered by a supportive adult relationship. Toxic stress may place children at risk for chronic disease, impairments in cognitive development and behavioral maladaptation.

To prevent violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect and to respond to the needs of child survivors:

  • Local health care systems should be equipped to provide essential medical care and to support personnel that specialize in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and other toxic stress-related diagnoses in order to comprehensively care for the needs of their population;
  • Health workers should be trained to identify and respond to signs of abuse, neglect and violence; and
  • Emergency response systems should be equipped to meet the specific needs of children.

Thank you.