More Research Examining Gender Inequality In Public Health Emergencies Needed To Prevent Further Inequalities

The Conversation: Zika and Ebola had a much worse effect on women: we need more research to address this in future
Sara Davies, fellow at Griffith University, and Belinda Bennett, professor of health law in the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology

“Outbreaks of the Ebola virus … and, more recently, Zika, had a disproportionate impact on women. In issuing emergency advice, international agencies acknowledged the different experiences of men and women during both crises. But … the advice they offered did not take into account women’s limited capacity to protect themselves from infection. … The social and economic conditions affecting women’s options and ability to control their risk of infection has received comparatively little attention to that of the overall consequences of [the Zika and Ebola] outbreaks. Even if women adequately protect themselves from infection and survive Zika and Ebola, they are still unlikely to have improved equitable health opportunities after these emergencies. Indeed, they face the risk of worse health and inequality. More research examining the effect of gendered inequality of public health emergencies must be conducted to inform future international advice and responses, so those affected can survive the crisis without compounding existing inequalities” (10/19).