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Concerted effort must be made to recognise gendered impact of public health crises: Poonam Muttreja

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Poonam Muttreja, public health expert and Executive Director, Population Foundation Of India

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge for the world and threatens to reverse decades of progress made on the socioeconomic and health fronts.  The damage to lives, health and well-being, especially to women and their essential needs must serve both as a warning and as a doorway to an opportunity which must be seized in the future.

The WHO has stressed the important of sex and age disaggregated data which must be ensured during data collection and reporting across sectors.  Governments must recognise violence against women as a public health concern and ensure support services for victims of violence as essential and available even during emergencies.

While the pandemic has unearthed human and systemic vulnerabilities, it has also showcased the importance of a strong and equitable public health system, good leadership and the spirit of collaboration between the government and civil society organisations.

Going forward, a concerted effort must be made to use public consultations, technology and whatever it takes, to recognise the gendered impact of public health crises and then include ways of formally working them into the blueprint for a public health plan for India.

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