News / Health

    UN: Women's Rights Key to Stopping Zika Outbreak

    Enclosed in a mosquito net, Nadia Gonzalez recovers from a bout of dengue fever at a hospital in Luque, Paraguay, Feb. 5, 2016. Dengue, like the Zika virus, is transmitted by the same vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
    Enclosed in a mosquito net, Nadia Gonzalez recovers from a bout of dengue fever at a hospital in Luque, Paraguay, Feb. 5, 2016. Dengue, like the Zika virus, is transmitted by the same vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
    Lisa Schlein

    The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says respecting women’s human rights and granting them access to reproductive health services are essential in the fight against the Zika virus.  The virus is thought to be linked to an upsurge of birth defects in Latin America.

    Scientists are trying to determine if there is a definitive link between an outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil and more than 4,500 suspected cases of microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brains.  

    Evidence for such a link is strong enough that a number of countries in Latin America are running scared and are making tough demands upon women.  U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein notes that some governments are asking women to delay getting pregnant, but are not providing them with the means to control or prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

    The high commissioner’s spokeswoman, Cecile Pouilly, says women and girls face an extremely difficult situation in Zika-affected countries that have restrictive laws governing women’s reproductive rights.

    “In situations where sexual violence is rampant, and sexual and reproductive health services are criminalized, or simply unavailable, efforts to halt this crisis will not be enhanced by placing the focus on advising women or girls not to become pregnant," said Pouilly.

    Isabela Cristina, 18, who is six months pregnant, shows a photo of her ultrasound at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Feb. 3, 2016.
    Isabela Cristina, 18, who is six months pregnant, shows a photo of her ultrasound at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Feb. 3, 2016.

    Affordable health services

    Pouilly says upholding human rights are essential to an effective public health response.  She says governments must ensure that women, men and adolescents have access to comprehensive and affordable sexual and reproductive health services.

    She tells VOA that El Salvador is a country where women experience a great deal of sexual violence, yet have no way to legally protect themselves from getting pregnant or terminating an unwanted pregnancy.

    “We know, indeed, that abortion is criminalized in all instances.  That is why we are asking those governments to go back and change those laws because how can they ask for those women not to become pregnant, but also not offer them—first an information that is available, but also the possibility to stop their pregnancies if they wish so," she said.

    Contraception, save abortion services

    Pouilly says comprehensive reproductive health services include contraception, maternal healthcare and safe abortion services to the full extent of the law.  

    She says these health services must be delivered with a woman’s fully informed consent, be non-discriminatory, and respectful of her rights.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jake from Albuquerque
    February 05, 2016 6:46 PM
    Yet another pitch for abortion-on-demand.
    Avoiding pregnancy is SUCH a burden, anyway.
    Not big on accountability, are you, Ms Schlein?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora