Niger’s First Lady, Dr Lalla Malika Issoufou, says the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant socio-economic impact.

The West African country has a total accumulated case of 4 740 infections, 172 deaths and 4 250 recoveries. Its first case was confirmed on March 19, 2020, in Niamey, where a 36-year-old man from Nigeria had travelled to Lomé, Accra, Abidjan and Ouagadougou.

The WHO Africa statement says Malika, who heads a charity organisation called Tattali Iyali Foundation supports Niger’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

She says women were hardest hit by the pandemic.

“The economy there has been a decline in state tax revenue, budget deficit and public services. Rising poverty means deeper vulnerabilities and social inequalities. Unfortunately, women pay a higher price. Poverty is a key issue because it deeply affects, especially women in rural areas. Many women rely on the often-unstable earnings of their spouses. Curfews, lockdowns and border closures disrupted incoming-generating activities, causing dramatic economic vulnerability for women, the pandemic depleted household economies.”

Malika says women are more exposed to the virus.

“When it comes to health, women are more exposed to the virus as health workers, social workers and particularly as mothers who take care of the ill and the vulnerable in the family.”

“There has also been psychological impact linked to COVID-19 stigma experienced at the onset of the pandemic. This significantly discouraged people from seeking health services, but also due to the fear of being infected. Domestic and sexual violence against women and children also rose during the lockdowns,” she adds.

Below is a full statement by the WHO:

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