seX & whY Episode 25, Part 1: Global Health and Pandemic Responsiveness Through a Sex and Gender Lens

Jeannette WolfePodcast Episodes

Show Notes for Episode Twenty-Five of seX & whY: Global Health and Pandemic Responsiveness Through a Sex and Gender Lens

Host: Jeannette Wolfe

  • McKinzie Gales – Fellow at the CDC and co-lead for Phase I of the multi-agency SAGER IOA project aimed at facilities’ better collection, analysis, and use of sex-disaggregated data and gendered data for outbreak response.
  • Emelie Yonally Phillips – Global Health consultant and core member of the Integrated Outbreak Analytics initiative



IOA – Integrated Outbreak Analytics
SAGER – Sex and Gender Equity in Research

The Integrated Outbreak Analytics (IOA) initiative is a collaborative partnership between UNICEF, WHO, US-CDC, ITM, Epicentre, IFRC, under the umbrella of GOARN.

The IOA concept started in earnest in 2018 during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo after it became clear that more real time, comprehensive on the ground data was needed to best manage outbreaks in an efficient and effective manner. The larger-picture concept is that the IOA model sets up a system for increased interagency data sharing and a process for data collection that produced more comprehensive information about:

  • How infections spread
  • How individuals access health systems and how patterns might evolve over time
  • How local sociocultural norms, behaviors and expectations, impact an outbreak response and community recovery

The IOA – Creates a more holistic response to outbreaks along the entire pipeline from prevention to treatment. It creates a model that puts lots of partners at the table including major players like Unicef, WHO, CDC, Doctors Without Borders in addition to local governmental agencies and boots on the ground health care providers.

Examples of data that may be integrated to provide a clearer story of what is happening in an outbreak include:

  • Surveillance data
  • Health information systems data
  • Programs data
  • Community data
  • Timeline event data
  • Climate, weather and ecosystems data
  • Local economy data

Goal is to apply a multi-disciplinary approach to outbreak analyses to provide a more holistic and timely understanding of outbreak dynamics and provide local Ministries of Health and response actors with rapid evidence to make decisions during an outbreak.

A key component of IOA is understanding the dynamics of both sex and gender within outbreaks and outbreak response for more adapted and appropriate responses. Therefore, IOA systematically works to collect, analyse and use data disaggregated by sex and inclusive of gender criteria across all phases of response:

  • Prevention
  • Detection
  • Management/Treatment
  • Response


Four phase project

Phase 1:

  • Systematic literature review – how are sex and gender being considered in outbreak response

Phase 2:

  • Participatory engagement in real time projects that are using an IOA and identifying what is already known about site specific sex and gender differences in tools/programs.
  • Developing survey of response actors looking at their current understanding about sex and gender and how they are or are not collecting needed information and/or analyzing and using it to guide interventions.
  • Create workshops and small groups to address challenges identified in survey and key informant interviews, identify capacities and brainstorm on how to overcome recognized barriers.
  • Co-create practical recommendations and strategies to more systematically integrate sex and gender into the outbreak analysis process.

Phase 3:

  • Collate Phase 2 responses from several different outbreaks to develop a larger SAGER IOA model that can then be flexibly applied to future outbreaks.

Phase 4:

  • Pilot testing in different outbreaks
  • Evaluating responses and further modification


Great resources

  • Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof
  • More information about the SAGER Guidelines
  • Link to previous podcast with Dr Shirin Heidari who was one of the fundamental drivers of developing the SAGER Guidelines.