While Zika really can affect anyone, we also know that women who are faced with multiple inequalities are likely to be affected disproportionately…. We know how to try to reduce risk of Zika [at] multiple levels—it’s wearing bug repellent, it’s using screens on your windows, using air conditioning.
We also know that in rural areas or urban slums, women don’t have money to buy repellent, women don’t have screens on their window, and don’t live in places with air conditioning, so they are automatically put at risk. They have less access to contraception, they have less control of their fertility. Zika...brings to light how much these multiple inequalities, at the end of the day, affect someone’s ability to both prevent and then deal with the epidemic over time.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) works with 50 partners across the Americas and the Caribbean, including those in the four USAID Zika Response priority countries – Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—to provide sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and comprehensive sexuality education to vulnerable populations and ensure the sexual and reproductive rights of all. Through their own clinic networks and community-based programs, as well as affiliated private providers, member associations in the four USAID Zika Response priority countries are providing essential SRH services that incorporate information on Zika risk, transmission and prevention, including family planning, antenatal and postnatal care.
During an FP Voices interview, Carrie Tatum, IPPF/WHR’s Associate Director of Programs, Service Growth and Quality, explains the important role that not only service providers but also men and women play in curbing the spread of Zika.
There’s the whole prevention side of Zika, which is incredibly important, and there’s an important role both for men and women to play in the prevention side. I think like any sexually transmitted infection, there’s a role for both parties in thinking about how to tackle some of the challenges in prevention and sexual transmission. Women who are Zika-affected in pregnancy—that does affect an entire family, and there’s a role, I think, for both men and women to play through the trajectory both of care during pregnancy and then really looking—we are more and more looking for partnerships to support families post-birth in these cases. In these countries, there are not robust systems to support families with children with disabilities, social support for parents, or psychological support for parents in that role.