The Gender Gap in Public Health- Our Executive Director’s Perspective

 Health care workers in Sierra Leone at an eIDSR training

Health care workers in Sierra Leone at an eIDSR training

The World Health Summit brings together stakeholders from health sectors and systems around the world to address pressing issues and chart a course for healthcare and medicine. On October 14-16, 2018, over 2,000 participants from countries all over the world converged at the World Health Summit in Berlin, Germany.

Our Executive Director, Evelyn Castle attended the summit and spoke on a panel discussing “Digital Integration of Surveillance and Outbreak Response Management”. She shared eHealth Africa’s experience leveraging digital surveillance tools such as Ebola Sense Follow-up and Electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance Response System (eIDSR) through an integrated data platform.

Watch her full presentation here

She was one of the only 102 women panelists who participated in the discussion. Some panels, in fact, had no women. This brought the issue of the gender gap in public health to the fore through a dedicated panel discussion tagged Addressing the Gender Dimensions for Health Systems Strengthening. She talks more about it on her Linkedin blog.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 70% of the global health workforce is made up of women but half of their contributions are unpaid or unacknowledged.

 Community health mobilizers at Kawaji Primary Healthcare Center Kano state, Nigeria

Community health mobilizers at Kawaji Primary Healthcare Center Kano state, Nigeria

Women bring a lot to the table not just as frontline health workers but as primary caregivers on whom the responsibility of executing the end stage of all health policies, strategies and programs fall. For example, policies on antenatal care or routine immunization will remain unexecuted if mothers do not bring their children to the health facilities. In addition, a female health worker is an essential asset to the health system, especially in communities where there are cultural or religious barriers prohibiting women from receiving care from male health workers.

The world’s ability to deliver quality health services to the populace lies in the strength of its workforce. Now more than ever, all hands, including women’s, must be on deck to ensure that the emerging challenges in public health, such as antimicrobial resistance, chronic and non-communicable diseases, are combated.

Thanks to the various perspectives offered by the panelists at the World Health Summit, it is believed that the first of many steps towards bridging the gender gap in public health has been taken.