RISK OF CONTRACTING EBOLA AND THE GLOBAL ZIKA VIRUS THREAT ARE PUTTING MATERNAL INSTINCT TO THE TEST: A CALL FOR A GLOBAL RESOURCE ENVELOPE FOR TARGETED SUSTAINABLE INTERVENTIONS
Jacob Mufunda* and Yustina Ndambakuwa
Background: Traditionally women play caregiver role for the sick which could have exposed them to Ebola.
Similarly, Zika virus disease which hitherto was an innocuous illness now linked to severe neurological disorders
in babies with increase in incidence of induced abortions in Zika exposed women poses a disproportionate
challenge to women in childbearing age group. The two diseases have independently tested the cradle of maternal
instinct to the limit. Objective: To document predisposition of women to Ebola outbreak in West Africa and Zika
virus. Methods: The study on Ebola outbreak was conducted between June and August 2014. Data was collected
from observation of routine care of the sick and traditional conduct of burials of suspected deaths from Ebola.
Literature review was conducted to expound on the Zika virus conjectures. Results: Women handled the sick and
deceased including washing them and their clothing. They also processed bush meat and marketed the products.
More than 80% of the first 16 Ebola cases were women while more than 60% of the first 45 deceased were women.
Rumors on perceptions of Ebola practices were fabricated and spread in market places among women marketers
who objected to criticisms of their practices. The link between Zika virus and neurological disorders poses
insurmountable apprehension among pregnant women in childbearing age groups globally. The prospects of
delivering a child with microcephaly and developmental hardships cause anxiety beyond panic among the
vulnerable. Conclusion: Health promotion, infection prevention control capacity and general hygiene for
sustainable community based practices on disease prevention are urgently required beginning with the girl child in
order to support tradition with evidence from best practices. Vector control measures for Zika virus have multiple
benefits because other serious mosquito transmitted diseases such as malaria and yellow fever are also controlled
by the same measures. A dedicated global resource envelope to support strengthened community infection
prevention control capacity and mosquito vector elimination measures are overdue.
Keywords: Predisposition of women to Ebola; women as carers of sick, community infection prevention control capacity, vector control for Zika, Malaria and yellow fever.
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