Increasing Access to Health and Knowledge and Services

Health matters are an especially critical area of concern for women living in extreme poverty.

The Challenge: We know that a woman’s health and well-being directly impacts her ability to support herself and her family. 

Our Strategy: Our program teams evaluate the critical health and wellness needs of women enrolled and adapt the program modules to ensure that trainings are comprehensive. 

The Result: Women who graduate from our program have more knowledge and integrate practices that promote the health and well-being of their family and community.

Health matters are an especially critical area of concern for women living in extreme poverty. 

The World Bank and World Health Organization regularly monitor the health challenges facing the most impoverished women and each confirms what our country leaders observe in the field: women in poverty experience high levels of maternal mortality, high rates of HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and poor hygiene, and particularly in conflict-affected countries, high numbers of women experience sexual and gender-based violence and post-traumatic stress. 

In an ideal world, health services are available and individuals can access the health care that they need at the right time. However, in the countries where we operate this is not the case. There is a considerable shortage of basic health care services.

The Challenge

Even when limited services do exist, there are often many barriers to access:

  • Geographic access – too far and difficult transportation
  • High demand – limited quality of care and long waits
  • Financial burden – high costs of services
  • Cultural barriers -- lack of acceptability due to cultural, social and religious context

Our Approach

Our country office teams work to identify and secure regional expert partners in health and wellness to provide training as well as access to medical and hygiene support and preventative services. Women need up-to-date information about illness and diseases, along with fundamental knowledge on how they are transmitted, prevented, and treated. This can be life-saving for women and their communities. 

Meeting Needs

Our country teams understand that the women we serve struggle with a lack of information about health, access to health services, and costs of health care. To bridge the knowledge gap, our life skills training covers key topics. We provide program enrollees with basic training and build a foundation of knowledge in key health areas.

  • Health: A Human Asset and Human Right
  • Stress, PTSD, and Stress Management
  • Reproductive Health and Anatomy, Pregnancy, Birth and Infant Care
  • Family Planning and Birth Control
  • STIs and HIV/AIDS
  • Nutrition
  • Hygiene

Improving Knowledge

Women are often disadvantaged in their access to health knowledge, which leads to poor health outcomes. For example, women face high rates of HIV prevalence in part due to limited knowledge about HIV, their ability to protect themselves from transmission and their ability to negotiate safer sex. In our programs we prioritize improving knowledge and access for the women we serve, recognizing that women in our programs face significant barriers.

Role of Partners

We work with partners to increase access to health services – this is increasingly important to our work in the field. Country teams provide referral support by directing women to health centers. In some instances, we organize groups to visit health facilities to seek medical help, counseling services, and additional support. In addition, some of country offices organize space in WfWI training facilities for HIV testing and other health services.