The female frontline

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated on 11 February. We are celebrating the occasion by paying tribute to the extraordinary contribution of women worldwide to COVID-19.

Health workers are under unprecedented pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Others are available to help patients 24 hours a day. Some others are sharing facts to increase community trust in vaccines. Others manage the distribution of vaccines all over the globe. The workers administer the vaccines tirelessly, in the interest of protecting our loved ones.

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Around 70% of the global health workforce is made up by women. They have been crucial in saving lives during the pandemic.

India: Warriors at the Haryana ward, Haryana

During the pandemic, India’s healthcare system was stretched to breaking point several times. The bulk of the care burden fell on women.

According to estimates, women make up 30% of doctors and more that 80% of nurses and midwives. Millions of lives have been saved by medical staff across the globe, including in India.

Men, follow me

Mariam is a Malian refugee. Mariam was the first woman to be given the COVID-19 vaccination in the M’Berra refugee camps in south-east Mauritania.

Mariam says that misinformation is a common problem in camp life. “Many people don’t know how to read, so they spread the word. We can all overcome this pandemic together because of vaccination.

Mariam thinks about the importance of her role. “First, I show the way for my friends and other women in our community. Second, I hope my actions will encourage men to get vaccinated.

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“Now that a women has done it [men] can no longer hide!”

Patients first

“I live with my wife, my three children, and my 80-year-old mother. Jennifer Boateng, Senior Pharmacist at Greater Accra Regional Hospital in Ghana, says that she was still breastfeeding when she started working at COVID-19 ICU.

She recalls that she was “truly terrified of contracting this virus and putting my loved ones at risk” “Painfully I had to stop my kids from hugging me after I got home from work.

Jennifer ensures that patients receive the correct medication at the right time and that they remain alive.

“I was so happy to receive the first COVID-19 vaccines in Ghana. We hope that more of these vaccines will be available so that there will be a decrease in deaths and hospitalizations.

Until everyone is safe, no one is secure

A clinic in Kupang, Indonesia has a team of female health workers who travel to the local community to conduct vaccination events. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on Indonesia, which saw one of the deadliest countries in the world. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 25,000 children.

The COVID-19 response in Indonesia is being supported by health volunteers who are mostly women. They have been encouraging parents to take their children to routine immunizations, as well as other essential services, during the pandemic. WE supported the training of the volunteers to ensure they are able to provide accurate and current information to the community.

The largest logistics and supply hub for children in the world.

Etleva Kadilli, Our Supply Division Director, is where women make up more than half the workforce in an traditionally male-dominated industry. WE procured goods and services worth more than $6.2 billion in 2021. There was a huge demand for COVID-19-related supplies, such as personal protective gear and safe injection equipment to administer vaccines.

Etleva says, “The pandemic caused the greatest logistic and supply problem in history as the world raced against the virus.” “As each shipment arrives I am reminded of the remarkable work of many colleagues, from establishing supply arrangements with manufacturers to designing innovative transport solutions.”

Etleva’s experience with the pandemic will help her and her team in other areas. She says, “How we use today’s lessons will help us build back better in strengthening our systems to build resilience for future shocks such as natural disasters or health emergencies.”

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Information that can save your life

Victoria is a social mobiliser in Yambio (South Sudan). She is part of Our Social and Behavioural Change programme, which engages youth and communities in issues that affect them.

South Sudan’s access to information is a huge problem. Information challenges are caused by insecurity, displacement, poverty, illiteracy and gender inequalities, as well as the fact that 83% of the population lives in rural areas, which have poor connectivity.

Victoria is among 2,500 mobilizers that are closing the information gap to share the facts about COVID-19 vaccination and prevention.

The children are aboard

Jessica, a 12-year-old girl from Kathmandu’s Himalaya Boarding School, received a COVID-19 vaccination from a female health worker.

More than 50,000 women community health volunteers support Nepal’s health services.

During the pandemic, their role expanded to include educating the public about preventative measures such as handwashing and sharing information about vaccinations.

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Amazingly dedicated

Daria Shulha (32), is a doctor at Kharkiv’s Infectious Diseases Hospital.

Daria says, “We see patients at a stage where it will take an immense effort to bring them back into life.”

Six beds are available in the intensive care unit where Daria works. Some of her patients were admitted to hospital for several weeks.