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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora