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Afghanistan’s missing coronavirus patients: Women

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  • Afghanistan’s missing coronavirus patients: Women


    Health News 24 June 2020
    Afghanistan’s missing coronavirus patients: Women
    ‘The numbers do not add up.’
    Stefanie Glinski

    HERAT, Afghanistan

    High coronavirus infection rates among health workers – and lopsidedly low numbers among women – are raising fears that Afghan women are missing out on healthcare while their exposure to the virus goes undetected.

    Women make up only 27 percent of Afghanistan’s roughly 30,000 coronavirus cases, according to health ministry data. And roughly five percent of the country’s total cases have been health workers, according to the UN – a sign the health system is struggling to contain an outbreak that has swept through every province.

    For the past three months, Fauzia Abrar has seen both trends unfold in her job as head nurse at one of the biggest COVID-19 hospitals in northwestern Herat city – the early epicentre of Afghanistan’s outbreak.

    “We’ve tested hundreds of people every day, but only about 30 to 35 percent of them are women,” Abrar said, her face covered by a mask. “This, however, doesn’t mean fewer women get sick. It just means fewer show up at testing centres.”

    Just as alarming to her: all of the hospital’s 15 doctors, and many of the 30 nurses, have tested positive, including her...