Gender Issues Influencing Zika Response in Ecuador
After initial detection in Brazil in May 2015, the recent emergence of Zika virus rapidly swept across the Americas, with cases notified in Ecuador in early 2016. By February 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus infection a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to its associations with microcephaly and other neurological disorders. As of the last Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) report on Zika cases in January 2018, there have been 2,397 confirmed cases of Zika, 3,954 suspected cases of Zika, and 14 confirmed cases of microcephaly in Ecuador, although this is probably underreported. While there are various programs in Ecuador that promote practices to prevent vector-borne and sexually transmitted Zika, and health system strengthening activities to link families with children affected by Zika to the care they need, to best help families respond to Zika, response and prevention programs need to integrate gender-sensitive interventions that address the variances of needs and behaviors of women, men, boys, and girls.
This desk review looks at several key Zika prevention and response areas where gender plays a role in Ecuador, drawing on sex-disaggregated qualitative and quantitative data and background information on gender and social inclusion considerations for the purpose of exposing gaps that would impact RMNCH care and emergency preparedness and the response related to Zika. The review highlights key insights to guide programmatic strategies and provides initial recommendations based on the findings.