Vulnerability to Malaria in Asia Pacific: Being Gender Responsive
Malaria is a disease of the rural poor and the vulnerable. To achieve elimination by 2030 in Asia Pacific, countries must protect those most at high risk of malaria. Pregnant women and young children for example face a higher risk because of reduced immunity, yet their needs vis-à-vis malaria prevention and treatment are not being adequately met. The vulnerability to existing infectious diseases is further heightened by other health crisis of a global nature such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health consequences of climate change.
Gender-related social and cultural norms influence exposure to malaria and access to malaria prevention and treatment services. Attitudes and actions vis-à-vis seeking malaria services are often related to them being a “woman” or a “man”. For example, women may lack information, agency, and the economic means to seek diagnosis and care for malaria. Men in Asia Pacific, by virtue of working and spending more time outdoors, may be at higher risk of exposure. In the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) for example, seasonal and mobile forest workers are most exposed to malaria vectors yet have limited access to health services.
How gender-related dynamics impact access to malaria services has been understudied in Asia Pacific. Our latest thematic brief provides an overview of the relationship between gender and malaria with examples from Asia Pacific. It provides policy recommendations for programs to design more gender-sensitive and gender-responsive elimination strategies.