Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Women's Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Debate

A comprehensive approach to women’s health: lessons from the Mexican health reform

Julio Frenk1, Octavio Gómez-Dantés2* and Ana Langer3

Author affiliations

1 Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

2 Center for Health Systems Research, National Institute of Public Health, Avenida Universidad 655, C.P. 62100, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

3 Women and Health Initiative, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Women's Health 2012, 12:42  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-12-42

Published: 10 December 2012



This paper discusses the way in which women’s health concerns were addressed in Mexico as part of a health system reform.


The first part sets the context by examining the growing complexity that characterizes the global health field, where women’s needs occupy center stage. Part two briefly describes a critical conceptual evolution, i.e. from maternal to reproductive to women’s health. In the third and last section, the novel “women and health” (W&H) approach and its translation into policies and programs in the context of a structural health reform in Mexico is discussed. W&H simultaneously focuses on women’s health needs and women’s critical roles as both formal and informal providers of health care, and the links between these two dimensions.


The most important message of this paper is that broad changes in health systems offer the opportunity to address women’s health needs through innovative approaches focused on promoting gender equality and empowering women as drivers of change.

Women and health; Mexican health reform; Fair Start in Life