Zika Virus: highlighting the importance of multisectoralty in achieving the Global Health Agenda

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Maria Eduarda Comunello and Mr. William Pereira Horst, a 5th semester medical student at Unicesumar, in Brazil. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Despite years of studies and attempts to integrate the three main sectors (human, animal, and environmental) that directly affect the health-disease relationship, this communication has not become effective yet. Neglect of the environment, in addition to the lack of investments in health education, has become a major synonym of fordism in the development of diseases, and therefore one of the biggest obstacles for the One Health approach to achieve the 17 goals proposed by the Global Health Agenda. From a critical analysis of global health, especially in underdeveloped countries, where this sectorization is greater, the Zika Virus (ZIKV) still represents a major threat, since it’s an infectious disease with immense potential for an epidemic outbreak.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of diseases have lost priority in all spheres, and the eyes of the World Health Organization (WHO) have turned to SARS-Cov-2. It is understandable that people are paying more attention to the pandemic, but meanwhile, ZIKV is still causing pregnancy complications and deaths in 2021, especially in Latin America. The disease is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito (Arbovirus), which is most common in tropical areas. Pregnant women are the population most affected by this disease, and the exposed ones have a higher risk of pregnancy complications, such as premature labor, preeclampsia, premature placental abruption, and even maternal death. In addition, vertical transmission of the virus can affect the development of the fetus, resulting in microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Considering the human relationship with the environment, it is noted that anthropic actions are determining factors for the spread of infectious diseases. Financial rise of many underdeveloped tropical countries in the last decades, including Brazil, has triggered an unrestrained and unplanned population and urban growth, which has disregarded relevant aspects such as adequate urbanization and the existence of public health policies and actions. Concomitant to economic progress, the civilization of societies has resulted, instead of better health and living conditions, in environmental deterioration and expansion of poverty and socioeconomic inequality; therefore, such frameworks, associated with poor assistance to the population, absent and/or inefficient basic sanitation and decadent political scenarios, promote the proliferation of epidemic diseases, such as the one caused by ZIKV.

The fulfillment of the 17 goals present in the Global Health Agenda is closely linked to the One Health, promoted by WHO, especially when dealing with Zika virus in emerging countries. This is due to the fact that the interrelation between human, animal, and environment pillars is inevitable and, for the health public policies to be effective, the totality of the existing connections must be considered. In summary, ensuring a healthy life and providing collective welfare is important and requires a holistic and integral view that pays attention to social, cultural, environmental, geographical, economic, and political aspects.


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About the author

Maria Eduarda Comunello (21 years old) is a 5th semester medical student at Unicesumar, in Brazil. In 2020, she joined the Academic League of Family and Community Medicine of Maringá. And, she is part of the local activity team of IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar.

William Pereira Horst (20 years old) is also a 5th semester medical student at Unicesumar, in Brazil. He has been class representative since 2019, is a local coordinator of IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar, member of the Academic League of Mental Health, and is the Communications Director of the Academic League of Geriatrics and Gerontology, both at Unicesumar.

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