WINDHOEK, APRIL 25 – Health workers in Namibia should be able to carry out their duties diligently following the launch of a Clinical Handbook for Survivors Subjected to Intimate Parnter Violence and/or Sexual Violence that is expected to provide a comprehensive response-based approach to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) victims at clinical level.
Yesterday, The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) in partnership with World Health Organisation and United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) launched the Handbook with the aim of re-orienting health workers and strengthening synergies between MoHSS and other key ministries to provide quality and improved services to survivors of GBV.
Ben Nangombe, Executive Director at the Health ministry, said the Handbook is designed to assist health care providers and other care givers on responding appropriately through easy steps and suggestions.
“There are practical steps throughout this Handbook to help while caring for and supporting a survivor who has experienced or is experiencing violence. There are simple steps that every health care provider, including those who are not specialists, can take to assist a survivor of violence to start recovering.”
UNFPA country representative Dennia Gayle insists health workers are among the front-line service providers that survivors sought help from, and was full of praise toward the government for collaborating and making the handbook a reality.
“It is indeed encouraging to see that Government is striving to address GBV especially against women and girls. While primary prevention of violence against women and girls – especially adolescent girls is paramount – response and impact mitigation are important levels of interventions. The role of the health workers in prevention and response to intimate partner violence and sexual violence cannot be undermined,” said Gayle.
She added: “I am delighted that the Guidelines provide step by step guidance to health care workers to prevent, identify, treat and refer cases to other service providers.”
Gayle is of the belief that the only way to address GBV effectively is through a multi-sectoral approach that incorporates prevention, protection and response, as well as the provision of essential services in health, police, justice and psycho-social support.
“I am in particular delighted to note that the Handbook also makes provision to respond to mental health needs of victims/survivors which is often not addressed.”
The book provides specific evidence-based guidance that can help to strengthen health workers’ response protocols to victims or survivors of violence. In addition, issues of violence are stressed as important with regard to the clinical training curricula, while emhpasising the strengthening of health systems to support women through direct services and multi-sectoral responses. Furthermore, it outlines the importance of identifying other key entry points for addressing violence and scaling up appropriate post-rape care responses, Gayle explained.
The five part Handbook focuses on, among others: Awareness about GBV; First-line support for intimate violence and sexual assault; as well as Additional clinical care after sexual assault. It also touches on Additional support for mental health and Intimate partner violence and family planning.
In the coming months, the Health ministry will train health care workers at facility level in various regions on the Clinical handbook, provide supportive supervision; monitor, document and start to report on victims/survivors of GBV accessing services.
“It is important that all health-care providers understand the relationship between exposure to violence and women’s ill health, and are able to respond appropriately,” advised Gayle. – firstname.lastname@example.org