Although the pandemic continues to take and harden lives, we have still not stopped learning the tactics and tricks about it. One of the predictions of the pandemic is that majority would be affected either by the virus itself or by the effects of the pandemic. Particularly what we suspect again is that for many women in Nigeria, the effects of the pandemic would affect them more than the virus itself.
In fact, many women may die from hunger, mental distress, maternal issues and sexual and domestic violence during the pandemic. It is safe to say that while some of these have erupted directly from the pandemic, others have existed but are now worsened with the pandemic. For instance, the UN estimates an additional 15 million cases of gender based violence for every 3 months lockdown.
Covid-19 spread is below projections
The spread rate in Nigeria has been below projections. In April, Melinda Gates warned Africa to be proactive about the pandemic. Her projections were that deaths from Covid-19 in Africa would be out of control. In her words- (Covid-19) “will make Africa have dead bodies lying on the street”. This projection has not happened yet as recorded deaths in Africa are less than 10, 000 as at 28th June, 2020. These numbers are however arousing curiosity as social distancing and stay at home orders in Africa are difficult to practice.
The current figures may tempt us to conclude that Africa is safe or maybe even lucky. However, one must remember that although the virus rate is unexpectedly slow, people are still dying from other things linked to the pandemic. Sadly, women and girls are most vulnerable.
Women dying from Covid-19 effects
As the pandemic has kept people out of school and work, increase in crime rate may be unsurprising. Recently, Nigeria has recorded some gory cases of rape and murder of young women. Although the Federal Government estimates that over 2 million women and girls are raped annually, these figures really never sank until now. However, recent rape cases in Nigeria seem to support this finding.
In addition to these rape and murder cases is the reduction of available maternal health care and services. Lack of health care for pregnant women may lead to complications and in turn, maternal mortality. Currently, the ratio for maternal mortality in Nigeria is 917 deaths per 100,000 live births according to the UN.
Experts however project that present conditions accompanied with the pandemic can worsen maternal mortality. An expert and NGO owner disclosed that her organization had received more cases of abandoned pregnant women. Unfortunately, access to maternal care has been difficult as some hospitals are shut down. For those that are open, movement restriction has frustrated access to maternal care.
Needs of women do not stop
The pandemic has hardened the lives of women and girls. Although hospitals may limit services and reproductive care may be less available, the pressing needs of women still do not stop. Maternity, menstruation and vaginitis know no pandemic; therefore addressing it is beyond social distancing and stay at home orders. The lives, safety and needs of women need to be prioritized too.