Philippines Health Minister advised to women to delay pregnancy
Philippines Health Minister Janet Garin has urged women to delay pregnancy until more is known about the mosquito-borne Zika virus
Zika virus has been linked to thousands of cases of birth defects in Latin America and an international public health emergency has been declared by the World Health Organisation.
Health Minister Janet Garin said in an interview on the radio “To those who are not in a hurry to get pregnant, maybe they can postpone and wait next year when we know more about the virus,” The health minister also advised Pinoys to avoid affected countries because “travelers, who contracted the disease abroad, may then transmit the virus sexually to their partners”.
The Pan American Health Organisation has said that in a few cases the virus could have been sexually transmitted.
The only confirmed case of Zika in the Philippines was back in 2012 and when a teenage boy was diagnosed with the virus.
Lyndon Lee-Suy, spokesman for the health ministry said “While we do not have any reported cases as of now here in the Philippines, we know that the threat is there,”.
80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, however in some people it causes mild fever, rash and red eyes.
A bishop Roman Catholic Church accused the health minister of using the scare over Zika to get people practice family planning.
Archbishop Oscar Cruz said. “Is it in her job description to say when women may get pregnant or not? Is it?”
The NHS advice on reducing the risk of infection of the Zika virus.
To reduce your risk of infection with Zika virus, you should avoid being bitten by an Aedes mosquito. The most effective bite prevention methods, which should be used during daytime and nighttime hours, include:
- using insect repellent that contains N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) on exposed skin – the repellent is safe to use during pregnancy and should be applied to skin after sunscreen is applied
- wearing loose clothing that covers your arms and legs
- sleeping under a mosquito net in areas where malaria is also risk.
In the past there was concerns about the safety of using insect repellents that contained DEET. However in 214 a review of existing studies by British scientists concludes there is insufficient evidence to show that DEET is unsafe for human use. The review concluded the benefits of avoiding disease-spreading insect bites outweigh any risks associated with applying DEET to the skin.