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Cases Among Women ‘May Be Underreported’ In Africa and Middle East

There is a huge gap between the number of men and women who have tested positive for Covid-19 in parts of Africa and the Middle East, according to a global aid agency, suggesting that women in conflict zones may be struggling with access to testing and support.

In countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, over 70% of reported cases were male, compared to a global average of 51%, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said.

Richer countries, in contrast, had a gender balance much closer to the worldwide average. These include Sweden (59% female), the UK (54% female) and the US (51% female).

“What we are seeing is a situation in which women are potentially being left out of testing and their health deprioritised,” said Stacey Mearns, senior technical advisor of emergency health at the IRC. “This could have serious ramifications for their physical wellbeing.”

The World Health Organization has previously called on countries to report the sex and age breakdown of their confirmed cases so it can analyse who is most affected.

The UN body said fewer than half of world’s confirmed cases had been reported with sex and age data, so any conclusions about the virus’ impact on certain genders should be made with caution.

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