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Towards the real-time inclusion of sex- and age-disaggregated data in pandemic responses

The emergence and spread of COVID-19 have reinvigorated the conversation on the importance of fulfilling commitments to gender-responsive approaches to public health, ensuring that gender is part of pandemic responses and leadership considerations. WHO’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has affirmed that ‘tackling (the) pandemic requires a gender-responsive, equity-oriented and human rights-based approach1 while underlining WHO’s commitment ‘to using a gender lens to continuously evaluate and improve our response efforts’.2

Despite experience from other global health crises and existing commitments, we have failed to gather and share adequate gender-sensitive evidence to guide COVID-19 responses. While data and research on COVID-19 are being produced at unprecedented speed, reporting of the data disaggregated by sex—let alone by sex and age—remains rare.3 Growing numbers of countries have begun to report their confirmed cases and deaths by sex and sometimes by sex and age.4 However, according to WHO, as of 22 September 2020, only 27% of 31 038 914 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported to the Organization with data on sex and age.5 6

Shirin Heidari, Claudia Ahumada, Ziyoda Kurbanova, GENDRO Gender, Evidence and Health Network. (2020). Towards the real-time inclusion of sex- and age-disaggregated data in pandemic responses. BMJ Global Health.

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