Gender Equality Update 35: Preparedness and Response for the third wave of COVID-19
Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear a response strategy for the virus needs to be dynamic in nature. Working toward preparedness has been more challenging than expected, especially when the Omicron variant was discovered in November 2021. Because the variant has a much higher transmission rate, there was a spike in infection rates globally. However, the rate of hospitalization and fatalities due to this variant ended up being lower due to the strain being less severe and the population having high vaccination rates. Even so, the pandemic continues to affect the world.
Gender Equality Update 35: Preparedness and Response for the third wave of COVID-19 highlights the impact of the pandemic on women and excluded groups, preparedness measures implemented by different bodies of the Government of Nepal, challenges faced while responding to the pandemic, and recommendations to be considered for future planning.
The report also identifies the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of marginalised groups and practical actions to strengthen preparedness at the local level.
- The pandemic widened gender and economic inequalities, leading to increased incidences of gender-based violence and a wider poverty gap.
- Although men had a larger fatality rate from COVID-19,2 women were greatly affected by the economic and social fallout of the pandemic.
- Cases of violence against women increased globally, with lockdowns causing women to be trapped at home with their abusers. With people forced to stay home, women and girls bore the burden of unpaid labor and were particularly exposed to the secondary impacts of the pandemic
- Increased rates of depression, anxiety, stress, and separation anxiety in the general population are direct effects of COVID-19
- The impact of COVID-19 on mental well-being also exhibited through neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as panic attacks, psycho-motor excitement, suicidal ideation, and a general decline in overall well-being.
- Middle-income families were able to sustain their standard of living during the lockdowns. However, lower-income families were unable to do so.
- Since there are limited health facilities at the district level, there were fewer health workers available. Further, health workers themselves were infected with COVID-19, resulting in a high turnover rate during the pandemic and a shortage of health workers in local areas
- The continued support provided by local governments, the police, schools, local media outlets and NGO/INGOs working at the local level is vital for the success of relief measures and awareness programmes.
- To contain the pandemic, all tiers of the government, from the local to the national, need to participate and collaborate for the implementation of COVID-19 protocols, such as testing, surveillance, etc.
This report was originally published on the UN Women website.