Online Program

Looking at the Ebola epidemic in West Africa through a gender lens

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 1:20 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

Joia S. Mukherjee, MD, MPH, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Partners In Health, Boston, MA
The rampant spread of Ebola in West Africa has disproportionately affected women. First, Ebola is a care-giver’s disease, transmission generally occurs through caring for the sick—washing bodies, bed clothes etc.; jobs that generally fall to mothers and wives. Indeed, more than half of those who have succumbed to the virus have been women.  Second, the front line health professionals shoulder the largest volume of patients and are least well trained and equipped. These workers are predominantly women. Third, pregnant women, have been particularly vulnerable to the collapse of an already weak health system in the setting of the Ebola crisis. Lastly, women have borne the lion share of the social burden of the epidemic, from re-integration of survivors, absorption of orphans and caring for children as schools are shuttered and markets closed. The non-governmental organization Partners In Health launched its efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone in September of 2014 with the goals of both responding to the Ebola epidemic and helping to re-build health systems. The pillars of this strategy include support for affected communities, and hiring and training community heath workers (many of whom are Ebola survivors and affected women), support for the public health facilities—with special attention to women’s health needs, and building capacity of health workers (particularly nurses) through formal training programs.  This presentation will highlight the gendered nature of the risk and burden of Ebola and suggest programmatic steps to support women in the crisis and as it wanes.

Learning Areas:

Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Describe specific social vulnerabilities of women in the Ebola crisis. Discuss strategies to support women in the Ebola recovery phase.

Keyword(s): International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am trained as an internist, pediatrician, infectious disease doctor and public health specialist. I have served as the Chief Medical Officer for the medical charity Partners In Health for 16 years. I have helped design and implement PIH’s Ebola response in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.