Zika webinar draws record attendance
5th February 2016
Few events have grabbed world headlines more dramatically than the recent outbreak of the Zika virus and the risk it poses to babies born to women infected by it. It is perhaps not surprising therefore that yesterday’s Spanish-language webinar on the subject attracted the largest audience of any webinar yet hosted by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. Over 460 individuals registered to participate, forcing the organizers to set up a YouTube simulcast to cope with those who could not enter the webinar directly.
The discussion, which was hosted by the Coalition’s regional forum for Latin America and the Caribbean, ForoLAC, involved former ForoLAC President Dr Vicky Camacho of UNFPA and Dr. Bremen de Mucio of PAHO. Two key messages emerged from the discussion. The first was that the spread of the disease has been exacerbated by the very same inequalities that undermine access to good health throughout the region. The second was that mitigation efforts must be comprehensive and framed within a rights perspective. Apart from provisions to control the spread of the disease itself, contraceptive supplies and services (including dual protection) must be available to all, including adolescents, who wish to prevent pregnancy. And for those who don’t or who are already pregnant and at risk of infection, access to adequate testing is critical.