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Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Surrounding Zika

Huffington Post: The Zika Virus Is Hitting Poor Women The Hardest
Julie Delahanty, executive director of Oxfam Canada

“…The response of the international community [to the Zika virus] so far has been to tell women not to get pregnant. … Are you kidding me? It’s not as if many of them weren’t already trying to avoid pregnancy. The unmet need for family planning remains massive, with a huge portion of women wanting to avoid pregnancy unable to do so for want of family planning and other reproductive health services. … The impact will be hardest on poor women. Addressing women’s rights must become an urgent priority for our world, because until that happens, poor women will continue to bear the brunt of every global crisis that emerges” (2/9).

Huffington Post: Zika Outbreak Signals the Urgent Need for Strong Primary Health Care Systems
Suzanne Ehlers, president and CEO of PAI, and Simon Wright, head of child survival at Save the Children and board member of the Global Health Workforce Alliance

“…The Zika outbreak brings into sharp relief just how important primary health care systems are in identifying, preventing, treating, and managing infectious diseases. A young woman living in Recife … will rely first on the same community health workers or primary care nurses and physicians she has always trusted for care. … Unfortunately, despite the wide-ranging functions of primary health care — immunizations, family planning, diagnostics, antenatal care, maternity services, rehabilitation, counseling, and referrals — it is often underfunded and deprioritized, forcing people to use whatever cash they have for low-quality private services. The volatile Zika outbreak should remind health advocates and policymakers alike that investments in strong comprehensive primary health care systems is the very best precaution for such emergencies…” (2/9).

Wall Street Journal: Applying to Zika the Forgotten Lessons of Ebola
Scott Gottlieb, physician and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

“…[The global response to Zika] starts with mosquito control. But most of all, vaccines to abate these threats are essential. Government grants can’t sustain these efforts because the money is usually too modest to offset the costs and risks of drug development. … The widespread use of vaccines could eradicate many of these emerging threats. But the costs of such mass vaccination are prohibitive. … [T]he lesson of SARS, avian flu, swine flu, and Ebola is that political resolve and funding flourish after a threat has exploded — and shrivel once the immediate danger abates. An economic framework is needed to support these efforts before threats spiral out of control, and to sustain them long after the immediate risks subside” (2/9).

Forbes: Can Big Data Help Fight The Zika Virus?
Bernard Marr, Forbes contributor

“…There’s plenty of data — more than anyone could ever use. The challenge is identifying the right data and getting it in the hands of the right people who can design and implement solutions. From a technological standpoint, we already have everything we need to leverage big data to quickly and effectively develop vaccines for new viruses such as Zika. … Now what we need are platforms and systems to get this data into the hands of those who can develop solutions before a public health emergency develops” (2/10).

The Conversation: Why Africa can’t afford to have an outbreak of the Zika virus
Adamson S. Muula, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Malawi

“…There are several reasons Africa is least prepared to deal with an outbreak of the Zika virus. This includes the limited laboratory capacity and a lack of experts and funding. … Unlike in the U.S., there is not a unified body of health experts on the continent. … Until the African center for disease control is fully active, there is no comparable entity for Africa. The re-emergence of diseases such as Zika calls for African states and experts, as well as the international community, to join forces to build the continent’s disease response capacities” (2/9).

Los Angeles Times: Zika outbreak bears an eerie resemblance to the spread of Ebola
Yanbai Andrea Wang, fellow at the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford Law School, and Michele Barry, director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford School of Medicine

“…These patterns [seen in the Ebola and Zika responses] — slow detection, sluggish response, and endangered vulnerable populations — will repeat themselves until we fix the forces driving them. … To build an effective global system for containing infectious diseases like Zika and Ebola, we need to make sure that countries around the world have the surveillance capacity to identify outbreaks before they spiral out of control. That means giving technical and financial assistance to developing countries and having external monitoring and incentives to make sure that capacity is built. … Without serious investment in global health systems, we will continue to face pandemics like Ebola and Zika and their devastating consequences” (2/9).

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