The impacts of infectious disease outbreaks on maternal mortality: A case study of Ebola and COVID-19 in developing countries

The following is a project created by Natalia Varela for the Global Pandemics in an Unequal World taught by Prof. Sakiko Fukuda-Parr.

This research paper analyzes the impacts of disease outbreaks on maternal mortality in Lower and Middle-income countries. It argues that reducing essential health services has an indirect negative effect on maternal mortality because resources have shifted to address the immediate biomedical
needs that put structural issues aside. Thus, the needs of women and other vulnerable groups are dismissed from disease outbreak responses, and consequently, they often have to struggle with adverse indirect effects. To prove the argument above, it examines Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia’s past Ebola experiences to understand the relationship between disease outbreak responses and maternal mortality. It concludes that the lack of including gender-responsive policies to outbreaks has caused gender effects, such as the stalling of maternal mortality reduction. If disease outbreak responses continue to neglect gender in their policies and strategies, gender effects will continue to be present. Thus, much of the achievements towards reducing maternal mortality or achieving gender equality will likely face setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic and future disease outbreaks.


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