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Edited by M Velzeboer, M Ellsberg, C C Arcas, C Garcia-Moreno. Pan American Health Organisation, 2003, pp 142. ISBN 92-75-12292-X
Gender based violence (GBV) is an important public health problem with far reaching physical and mental health outcomes. Although non-governmental organisations and women’s advocacy groups have been at the forefront of the efforts to stop this epidemic, the response from the health sector has lagged behind. This book is a succinct synopsis of the Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) efforts to eliminate gender based violence in Latin America. While the reader is provided with a brief overview of the scope of GBV, a significant portion of the book is devoted to a description of the needs assessment for their project called “Critical Path”, the implementation of the multilevel PAHO project (community/sector/regional/national) in 10 Latin American countries and the lessons learned from this project. As the healthcare sector was only one of the many levels at which this plan was implemented, the book describes more than just the health sector response to GBV; the book also describes the change effected in national policies and laws as a result of the PAHO project, as well as feedback from the women affected by GBV. Even though the specific strategies described in this book had been tailored to the local milieu, it should be possible to use the same process in other settings; the last chapter provides a global perspective on the lessons learned in Latin America. The book has a comprehensive section on GBV resources; the bibliography contains selected references, and includes references to regional GBV projects. This book is a quick read; and although the tables, figures, and boxes lack adequate contrast, they do summarise relevant information for the reader and are worth paying attention to. In sum, this book provides an excellent summary of PAHO’s interdisciplinary efforts towards eliminating GBV and is likely to be useful to other field efforts to curb GBV.