Data Shows Coronavirus Testing Not Reaching Women in Socially Conservative Countries: IRC

An international aid group says coronavirus data in some countries show a sharp discrepancy between cases in men and women amid concerns that women lack proper access to testing and health care.

The International Rescue Committee highlights several socially conservative countries including Somalia and Afghanistan, where health ministry data this week show 72% of cases are male and 28% are female.

In Yemen, 75% of cases are male and in Pakistan and Chad, it's 74%. The global breakdown is roughly 50%.

An IRC emergency health advisor, Stacey Mearns, says in a statement that "while men in these places have more freedom of movement and tend to be out in the community socializing more, many go home to women. Also, women are usually caretakers of the sick and elderly in these cultures and therefore exposed to COVID-19."

She adds that "what we are seeing is a situation in which women are potentially being left out of testing and their health deprioritised."

Testing overall in many of these countries remains low because of a shortage of materials, with conflict often complicating health responses.