Pregnant woman

Zika en het voortplantingsrecht

NEW YORK – Muggen kennen geen grenzen, evenmin als angst. Nu de volksgezondheidsdeskundigen worstelen met het Zika-virus, blijft de paniek zich over de wereld verspreiden. Toch heeft de crisis twee belangrijke waarheden aan het licht gebracht.

De eerste ontdekking is hoezeer de volksgezondheidssystemen in Latijns-Amerika en daarbuiten achteruit zijn gegaan. Dit is niet bij toeval gebeurd. Het is grotendeels het gevolg van de druk op de ontwikkelingslanden, vanaf 1980, van crediteuren als het Internationale Monetaire Fonds om de sociale uitgaven te beperken, inclusief de uitgaven aan de gezondheidszorg. In Brazilië en elders hadden de autoriteiten welbekende en kosteneffectieve maatregelen kunnen nemen om door muggen overgebrachte ziekten in de hand te houden, maar toch gebeurde dat niet. Hun zwaarst getroffen burgers, die over het algemeen arm zijn, zijn gedwongen met de gevolgen te leven.

In de tweede plaats heeft de Zika-epidemie ook nadrukkelijk een andere dreiging voor de volksgezondheid blootgelegd: de ontkenning van het voortplantingsrecht van vrouwen. De overheden onttrekken zich in dit opzicht ook aan hun verantwoordelijkheid, dikwijls op groteske wijze. De gerapporteerde toename van de gevallen van microcefalie – een geboorteafwijking – onder kinderen in de door het Zika-virus getroffen gebieden heeft de regeringen van Brazilië, Colombia, Ecuador en El Salvador ertoe aangezet hun vrouwelijke burgers te waarschuwen “niet zwanger te worden.”

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