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Opinion Pieces Discuss Issues Surrounding Zika Virus, Including Women’s Rights, Economic Cost, Outbreak Containment

The Interpreter: The Zika Virus won’t be ‘Ebola 2.0’
Allira Attwill, health policy and health economics consultant

“…[T]he world is fixated on Zika, wondering if it will be ‘Ebola 2.0.’ But it won’t be, partly because of its mode of transmission, partly because Zika is unfolding in a post-Ebola world, but mainly because Latin America is not West Africa. Health systems are largely stronger and governments better able to deal with public health emergencies … Also, PAHO (WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas) is not WHO-AFRO … and the WHO is much better prepared, cautious, and eager to show the world that it can be what we need it to be: a true leader in global health. The international community’s thorough and swift handling of Zika suggests that governments and the WHO learned from the devastation caused by Ebola” (2/5).

New York Times: The Zika Virus and Brazilian Women’s Right to Choose
Debora Diniz, founder of Anis — Institute of Bioethics and law professor at the University of Brasília

“…The Zika epidemic has given Brazil a unique opportunity to look at inequality and reproductive rights, and to change how the country treats women. Asking women to avoid pregnancy without offering the necessary information, education, contraceptives, or access to abortion is not a reasonable health policy. Sexual and reproductive rights for all women, poor and rich, must be taken seriously. The government should immediately offer a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health care to all Brazilian women, with a specific focus on those at most risk of Zika infection. … The government must finally give women basic control over their reproductive lives — accessible and affordable contraception, and safe and legal abortion…” (2/8).

Bloomberg View: The Economic Cost of Zika Virus
Mac Margolis, Bloomberg View contributor

“…How much will the virus cost? It’s too soon to calculate. … But some idea of the potential financial havoc the disease might wreak can be gleaned by looking at another sickness spread via the Aedes mosquito: dengue. … Donald Shepard, a health economist at Brandeis University, ran the numbers and concluded that in 2013 dengue cost the global economy $8.9 billion. … True, the comparison with Zika is not perfect. Dengue has a greater global reach … [and the calculations do] not include the toll on tourism. … With Zika, stocks of travel companies have already slumped ‘after U.S. health officials warned pregnant women and those planning pregnancies against visiting affected areas such as Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Barbados,’ according to Bloomberg Intelligence. That’s bad news for recession-ridden Brazil…” (2/5).

Huffington Post: Nigeria Contained Ebola; Can We Contain Lassa Fever and Zika Virus?
Toyin Ojora-Saraki, founder-president of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa

“…[Nigeria] was among the first West African nations to contain the recent Ebola outbreak, as a result of rapid action, resilience, and resources, and widespread health education. Lessons from our fight against Ebola can be applied to the recent outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria … The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and I have taken rapid steps to elevate awareness of this deadly disease and its prevention, in line with our health education efforts across Nigeria. Our strong health education platform, #MaternalMonday, is designed to engage and empower individuals on a range of health issues related to health. In light of warnings from the World Health Organization, WBFA and I have taken steps to educate women globally about Zika virus and the risks that the virus poses to their health and the health of their children through our #MaternalMonday campaign. We believe that through health education and rapid awareness efforts, we can prevent an outbreak from turning into an epidemic…” (2/8).

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