Women and girls have experienced the pandemic in a very different way across the world to men, according to Dr Mike Ryan of the World Health Organization.

Delivering the keynote address at the online launch of the COPE Galway Annual report, the Executive Director of the WHO's Emergencies Programme, said overall men have had higher death rates for Covid-19 compared to women.

However, he explained that the social and economic consequences of the pandemic have predominantly landed "on the shoulders of women".

Dr Ryan said during the pandemic, many women have had to provide more domestic support at home to care for children and sick relatives while not having access to full-time work.

"The pandemic highlighted the unstable situation that many women have in societies and the burden in a crisis falls back on women with no extra support," Dr Ryan said.

Latest coronavirus stories

He told delegates that "women and girls have experienced the pandemic in a much deeper way than men in general".

He said society needs to look at the extra burden women experience in these situations and that older populations have also borne a huge burden during the pandemic.

Dr Ryan urged governments to examine how services are organised for older age.

He added that the pandemic exposed the needs of the mental health sector and said that "mental health is no longer a taboo issue".

He said the focus needs to be on mental health prevention and providing services in the community.

"We need a strong acute emergency mental health service," Dr Ryan said.