Ethical, legal and societal considerations on Zika virus epidemics complications in scaling-up prevention and control strategies

Philos Ethics Humanit Med. 2017 Aug 25;12(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s13010-017-0046-8.


Much of the fear and uncertainty around Zika epidemics stem from potential association between Zika virus (ZIKV) complications on infected pregnant women and risk of their babies being born with microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities. However, much remains unknown about its mode of transmission, diagnosis and long-term pathogenesis. Worries of these unknowns necessitate the need for effective and efficient psychosocial programs and medical-legal strategies to alleviate and mitigate ZIKV related burdens. In this light, local and global efforts in maintaining fundamental health principles of moral, medical and legal decision-making policies, and interventions to preserve and promote individual and collectiveHuman Rights, autonomy, protection of the most vulnerable, equity, dignity, integrity and beneficence that should not be confused and relegated by compassionate humanitarian assistance and support. This paper explores the potential medical and ethical-legal implications of ZIKV epidemics emergency response packages and strategies alongside optimizing reproductive and mental health policies, programs and best practice measures. Further long-term cross-borders operational research is required in elucidating Zika-related population-based epidemiology, ethical-medical and societal implications in guiding evidence-based local and global ZIKV maternal-child health complications related approaches and interventions. Core programs and interventions including future Zika safe and effective vaccines for global Zika immunization program in most vulnerable and affected countries and worldwide should be prioritized.

Keywords: Abortion; Epidemics; Ethical; Legal; Mental; Programs; Reproductive; Zika virus.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / ethics*
  • Epidemics*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microcephaly
  • Parturition
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Zika Virus Infection / epidemiology
  • Zika Virus Infection / prevention & control*
  • Zika Virus*