Cad. Saúde Pública, Aug 20, 2018

Moreira MCN, Nascimento M, Mendes CHF, Pinto M, Valongueiro S, Moreira MEL, Lyra TM, Kuper H; SEIZ Research Group


Recently, the Zika virus epidemic has caused a setting of health emergency in Brazil. This event has mobilized several stakeholders to look at this reality - where women, men and children born with the marks of these diagnoses are differently affected - as one with vectors, illnesses and obscure diagnosis situations. Recalling this recent memory means summoning the political realms to demand the commitment to the health of the population in contexts of health emergencies and their repercussions in the daily life.

The Zika virus epidemic is characterized as a total social fact, precisely because it synthesizes several determinations about epidemic processes by combining factors of economic and social inequality and revealing processes of vulnerability. This situation triggers a chronology of events that establish and dismiss the emergency: in November 2015, the Brazilian Ministry of Health issued a National Public Health Emergency; in February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the Zika virus epidemic as a public health emergency of international concern; in March 2016, the Protocol for Surveillance and Response to the Occurrence of Microcephaly Related to Zika Virus Infection was published; in November 2016, the WHO no longer considered the Zika virus as an international emergency; and, in May 2017, the Brazilian Ministry of Health declared the end of the emergency.

These sequential events, responsible for inaugurating and ceasing emergencies, do not suspend the living experience: babies will grow up and need, in addition to rehabilitation services, nurseries and schools able to receive them; and parents and relatives will need to work and most likely will be burdened by their exhausting routines. The emotional vulnerability to which professionals and users of health system are submitted are equivalent within a chain of iniquities and search for knowledge. Moreover, this chronology delimits a process that risks sexual and reproductive rights in the name of securitization of epidemics, reinforcing fears and stigmatization.

If, on the one hand, international agencies and the Brazilian government position themselves and qualify emergencies, on the other, by anticipating them very closely, the scientific field - both clinicians and researchers - mobilizes itself for answers.

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