Women hardest hit by Covid, must protect themselves: health experts
The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women, especially South African women in areas such as mental distress, health care, gender based violence and employment, research shows.
An analysis of over 400 studies by the Center for Global Development’s Covid-19 Gender and Development Initiative found that during the pandemic:
- violence against women and children increased by 74 percent
- more women than men lost their jobs in low-income countries. SA studies show women account for two thirds of jobs lost.
- access to contraception, antenatal care and attended births declined by more than 10 percent
- women had 80 percent more mental health challenges including stress, depression and anxiety.
“The longer-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will not be equal for women and men. We are currently experiencing the biggest setback in gender equality for a generation,” said Sofia Sprechmann of Humanitarian Organisation Care International, who wrote about the impact of Covid-19 for the World Economic Forum’s Covid Action Platform.
In response, three leading SA health experts have encouraged women to protect themselves as the country’s primary caregivers and to educate themselves on the best possible ways to maintain good health.
International health and wellness expert Maria Ascencao said women should be at the forefront of Covid-19 responses which should include urgently redressing all gender-based disparities, tackling gender based violence emphatically, closing the wage gap and bolstering support for mental health.
Pharmacist and complimentary medicines expert, Giulia Criscuolo, said women should make mental health a top priority and support this with a healthy lifestyle, professional support, exercise, a nutritious diet and supplementing with targeted, high-quality products.
Nutritional health expert Vanessa Ascencao said in addition to Covid’s impact, SA was ranked in a study as the unhealthiest country amongst 150 countries in the world. Another study shows that nearly 70% of SA women are obese, contributing to poorer mental health, reduced quality of life and increased health risks.
“To take better care of ourselves, our diet should consist of nourishing foods like fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein. Drink lots of water. Exercise regularly, manage stress, get enough restorative sleep and boost immunity with high quality immune-boosting supplements such as BetterYou DLux vitamin D oral spray, Biomax Liposomal Vitamin C, Bio-Curcumin and Bio-Berberine – all proven to have excellent absorption and efficacy,” said Ascencao.