The Aftermath of the Zika Crisis
9th October 2018
“Now that the World Health Organisation has declared that Zika is no longer a global health emergency, there is a danger that the struggles of families of children with CZF will become an invisible problem.”- Dr João Nunes, University of York
In October 2016, the European Union approved €30 million in research to combat the outbreak of the Zika virus disease and other infections transmitted by mosquitoes. Last Tuesday, the University of York hosted a workshop to explore how social movements and scientists shaped the response to the Zika epidemic in Latin America, and to discuss the long-term repercussions of the epidemic. The Zika Virus outbreak in Latin America has had a devastating medium- and long-term public health impact, particularly among the poorest and most vulnerable groups. In 2015 and 2016, the Zika virus caused thousands of babies to be born with brain damage. This left many Brazilian single mothers financially vulnerable, having had to give up their jobs to care for children with CZS. The incidence of Zika Congenital Syndrome (ZCS), which includes a spectrum of disorders including microcephaly in newborns, has increased in association with Zika. The support provided by health authorities has, however, lagged behind – with disastrous consequences. During the workshop, researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) – the largest public health research institution in Latin America – presented the Brazilian experience with the Zika outbreak, and the challenges faced by the country’s public health response. The University also proudly welcomed representatives from several of the Brazilian social movements that have been at the forefront of the response to Zika, including associations of mothers of children with Zika Congenital Syndrome. They shared their experience of inadequate response on the part of the health system, and their ongoing struggle against neglect.