The PCPCD includes a cross-cutting component of gender equality that aims to include and integrate a gender perspective in health care, raising awareness among health workers (including planners, managers, and staff responsible for direct patient care) about gender differences and how they affect the determinants of disease, health seeking behavior, and quality of services. It also emphasizes the need to collect, analyze, and disseminate health data disaggregated by sex in order to identify disparities and address them, if necessary. Its actions are concentrated in Paraguay and Ecuador where implementation was initiated in 2005 and 2009, respectively.
When the decision was made to integrate the gender component in Paraguay, it was agreed that the Program would work along the lines of action of the National Plan on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (2003–2007) in issues of common interest that are consistent with the results of the PCPCD. Thus, the Program is strengthening the integration of a gender strategy in the country’s health system.
The thematic roundtables include representatives from various Ministry Cabinets (multisectorial), other international organizations, non-governmental organizations and local health teams and aim to highlight the issue of gender and its importance for communicable diseases, such as HIV, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis, IMCI strategy, Chagas disease, and dengue. These thematic roundtables have also dealt with the issue of gender and violence. An example of the success of their discussions is the Government’s decision (resolution of August 2005) to provide free syphilis testing and treatment to pregnant women to protect mothers and children from infection.
In both Ecuador and Paraguay, the PCPCD is working to mainstream gender in the IMCI strategy, both in the materials developed for the strategy and in its implementation, specifically in the community component in the Program areas.