Brac James P Grant School of Public Health, Brac University has joined a team of international researchers on a project conducting real time gender analysis to identify and document the gendered dynamics of Covid-19 plus gaps in preparedness and response.
The team will provide rapid guidance and recommendations to policymakers, and others responsible for responding to the pandemic, based on the findings. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has approved $1.6 million for the project.
The investment will help international teams – including researchers from the United States, Bangladesh, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Australia – to expand analysis of the effects of the pandemic on gender-based risk and health, and social and economic well-being, reads a press release.
Studies have shown that the death rate of men infected with Covid-19 is higher. However, according to researchers, the pandemic could have an indirect negative social and economic impact on women. For example, school closures have a different effect on women who often do most of the childcare work.
Isolating yourself can be a risk for conflict with an intimate partner. The focus of emergency health care may shift from maternal health care, sexual and reproductive health care to immediate solution to the pandemic.
The researchers will use additional funds from the Gates Foundation to conduct qualitative case studies and panel surveys with local partners on the economic impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations in five countries: Kenya, Nigeria, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Brazil.
These countries are in varying stages of the Covid-19 outbreak, with different types of threats to gender equality, varying economic strength and in some cases, a recent history of outbreak response – for example, Zika in Brazil and Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Professor Sabina Fayez Rashid, the chief researcher of the Bangladesh team, said, "We need to pay more attention to the unforeseen consequences of public health development activities and recognise that public health is not a single biomedical factor, in which case the novel coronavirus is run by multiple determinants."
She continued, "While all measures taken to curb the spread of the virus may seem collectively appropriate, at the same time we need to consider communities that are structurally, socio-economically and health-poor. The social indicators of health are part of the mainstream health determinants, but we are more inclined to impose liability on them rather than identify their actual limitations due to poverty and the health risks they are exposed to."
The team has launched a project website (genderandcovid-19.org) that will serve as an information and evidence centre on the Covid-19 gender metrics in each country.
An online Covid-19 Gender Impact Toolkit will guide policymakers in dealing with pandemics and epidemics using a gender lens.