zika NurPhoto/Getty Images

De onrechtvaardigheden van zika

SOUTHAMPTON – Uitbraken van besmettelijke ziekten in de ontwikkelingslanden zijn vanuit het perspectief van de gezondheidszorg al erg genoeg. Maar ze hebben ook nog eens ernstige gevolgen voor de sociale gerechtigheid, omdat ze reeds lang bestaande mensenrechtencrises verscherpen, ook door toch al zwakke publieke voorzieningen te ondermijnen en bestaande ongelijkheden te verdiepen.

Net als de ebola-uitbraak in West-Afrika in 2014 heeft de zika-uitbraak in Midden- en Zuid-Amerika in 2015 kwetsbare sociale groepen het hardst getroffen – vrouwen en kinderen, etnische minderheden en de armen. Evenals de gele koorts, dengue en andere ziekten wordt zika overgebracht door de Aedes aegypti steekmug. Maar Zika – ongebruikelijk voor een door een steekmug overgebracht virus – kan ook seksueel worden overgedragen. En nog ongebruikelijker is dat de ziekte in verband wordt gebracht met neurologische en ontwikkelingsstoornissen bij babies: microcefalie en het syndroom van Guillain-Barré. Voor het overige zijn de symptomen dikwijls relatief mild.

Dit betekent dat – voor de ruim 1,5 miljoen mensen die sinds de uitbraak door zika zijn getroffen – de gevolgen het zorgwekkendst waren voor vrouwen in de kinderbarende leeftijd, met name voor vrouwen die al zwanger waren. Tussen 2016 en 2017 is een totaal van 11.059 zika-gevallen bij zwangere vrouwen bevestigd, waardoor 10.867 gevallen van microcefalie en andere aangeboren stoornissen van de centrale zenuwstelsels van hun baby's werden veroorzaakt. Vijfenzestig procent van deze baby's werd ter wereld gebracht door arme vrouwen en vrouwen van kleur uit noordoost-Brazilië.

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