WOMEN in Africa are less likely to die from COVID-19 than men, but more likely to succumb to maternal complications due to limited access to reproductive services since the pandemic started.
Disclosing this today, World Health Organisation (WHO) regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti in a study of 28 African countries including Guinea, Mauritius and Uganda, revealed that on average women accounted for a slightly smaller proportion of coronavirus infections and deaths compared to men.
Overall around 41 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases were women, although the figures ranged widely from 31 per cent in Niger to more than 57 per cent in South Africa.
“In most countries, women are somewhat less likely to die from COVID-19 than men.
But the pandemic had exposed gaps in health services, with women suffering the brunt of disrupted access to care.” Moeti stated
Moeti while making reference to another study that collated data between February and July 2020, added that there was a rise in maternal deaths in 10 countries, with the highest numbers coming from the Comoros, Mali, Senegal and South Africa.
“Access to sexual and reproductive care was already poor on the continent before coronavirus hit.
But access was made worse by restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19, pushing more women to seek risky informal abortions, Moeti explained.
She emphasised that overstretched hospitals were often unable to see patients seeking non-coronavirus related services, saying that more data is still needed to determine the full extent of the effect.