Statement on the Public Health Response to the Zika Virus
February 02, 2016
STATEMENT FROM MARY A. PITTMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PUBLIC HEALTH INSTITUTE
The Zika virus is rapidly emerging as a global health emergency. Current information indicates the virus is passed through mosquito bites and contact with blood and body fluids. Transmission is occuring in many parts of the world including the U.S., South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
As a global health organization that includes work on reproductive and sexual health, PHI supports the USAID principle of voluntarism and informed choice, which prioritizes choice of and access to a wide variety of contraception and reproductive health options. A woman's ability to choose whether or not to have an abortion and whether or not to use contraception is a critical underpinning of an ethical and effective strategy to counter this disease.
In many parts of the world, government policies, economic hardship, sexual and physical violence, and social, religious and cultural practices may make it difficult for communities to access or use the reproductive health options that are best for them. The United States must lead the international community in formulating and implementing a rapid, comprehensive and compassionate response that ensures, in the short-term, that reproductive and sexual health options are prioritized and available in communities most at risk.
Looking forward, we must continue to build a robust public health infrastructure and deepen our funding for public health work in order to prepare for, respond to and prevent emerging diseases like Zika. We do not yet understand the full scope and impact of Zika--nor are we as prepared as we could be for the next threat.
For the most up-to-date information on travel advisories, prevention, transmission, diagnosis and treatment of the Zika virus, please review guidance from the CDC. For more information, visit the World Health Organization's website.