Ishika Chaudhary, Tarishi Chaturvedi, IMPRI Team

The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities to a great extent affecting every sector of life deeply. To understand the effect of COVID-19 on women, Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a panel discussion on “Gendered Impact of the Catastrophic Second Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic: Way Forward towards Combating the Third Wave in India” on June 15, 2021.

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Dr Swati Rane, CEO, SevaShakti Healthcare Consultancy; VP Clinical Nursing Research Society; Core Committee member, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Mumbai asserted that every person who gives care professionally is a health care worker. Females are the primary care workers all across the World.

Definition of health care workers needs to be redefined- Dr Swati Rane

The Violence against female health care workers is tip of iceberg of gender power. Gender leadership gaps are driven by stereotypes, discrimination, power imbalance and privilege.

Women at a Disadvantaged Position

Closing the leadership gap: Gender Equity and leadership in the global health and care workforce- By WHO, WGH, GHWN.

Women disadvantage intersects with and is multiplied by other identities such as race and class.

Women need to have an equal say in decision making. In India, women are almost 50% of the healthcare workforce, among different categories of health care workers, nurses and midwives dominated by women at 88% (68th NSS report).

Women are almost 70% of the global health workforce but it is estimated that they hold only 25% of senior roles. Sanitation workers remain most ignored. The states haven’t come with uniform policies for their workers.

No data is maintained in the Union government about Safai Karmachari who have died due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurses estimated to be around 50% of all health workers are significantly underrepresented in global and national health leadership. 76% nurses are overworked according to the study conducted jointly with SAATHI. In first wave, there were 62 deaths in 8 months and in the second wave, 62 deaths in 3 months.

Across Maharashtra, at least 570 ASHA workers have been infected with COVID-19. ASHA workers are underpaid and overworked. They have been confronted with physical abuse or violence during their home-home surveys. There is no system for ASHA workers. There is no proper job role of ASHA workers as their duties include pre-natal and postnatal care, immunization drives for children, population based screening for disease based surveillance among others. Our attention needs to be on:

  • Working conditions
  • Violence
  • Harassment
  • Fear
  • Overload of work remains.

624 doctors vs 748 doctors died last year due to COVID-19 in second wave- IMA

Dr. Swati Rane concluded by saying that we need to invest in public health care as private sector’s profiteering needs to be stopped. Diverse leadership roles need to be created like epidemiologists, nurses, architects, engineers as India is a diverse country with different needs. Health needs to have various actors. Healthcare workers working condition needs to be looked deep into. Tele-medicine should be adopted. Price of the drugs needs to be maintained.

Health should be related to food, sanitation and water- Dr. Swati Rane

Primary health care centre has to be strong. Transformation of health sector is required.

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