Improving Women's and Girl's Health

USAID's Integrated Family Health Program works with the government MInistry of Health to build capacity and quality
USAID's Integrated Family Health Program works with the government MInistry of Health to build the capacity and the quality of services at health centers around the country to prevent maternal and infant deaths.
Nena Terrell/USAID

Gender equality in health means that women and men have equal conditions for realizing their full rights and potential to be healthy, contribute to better health systems in their countries, and benefit from the result.

Healthier women mean healthier children, families, and communities.

Each year more than 500,000 women, 99 percent of them in developing countries, die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications. An additional 15 to 20 million women suffer debilitating consequences of pregnancy. 

While maternal mortality remains unacceptably high throughout the developing world, many USAID-assisted countries have achieved significant reductions in maternal deaths from pregnancy-related causes. 

USAID’s approach to improving maternal health and the health of newborn children includes:

  • Community involvement.
  • Effective, proven interventions
  • Compassionate high-quality services

Critical interventions such as iron supplementation, malaria treatment, safe and clean delivery, and treatment of obstetric and newborn complications are improving the health outcomes for mothers and infants around the world.

USAID's decades of experience have shown that health programs addressing gender barriers improve development outcomes overall.  USAID’s programs have achieved positive results and set the global standard for health care delivery to women.  See USAID Gender and Health Stories.  

Integrating gender across HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs with an emphasis on transformative interventions is a key guiding principle in USAID’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, in partnership with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Working through PEPFAR, and partnering closely with other U.S. Government agencies, USAID is proud to be fostering an AIDS-free generation.

The launch of the United States Government Global Health Initiative (GHI) was a major PEPFAR milestone.  It highlights the need to integrate women, girls, and gender equality throughout the Global Health portfolio.  Through the GHI, the U.S. helps partner countries to improve health outcomes, strengthen health systems, and deliver integrated services, with an emphasis on the health of women, newborns and children. Programs achieve sustainable health impacts by addressing maternal and child health, family planning and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, infectious disease, nutrition, and safe water. 

Looking forward, a key element of USAID’s Global Health Strategic Framework for FYs 2012-2016 is the promotion of inclusion, gender equality, and female empowerment.  

Last updated: September 13, 2012

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