The right to health and access to food, safe drinking water, housing, and education are fundamental human rights

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The right to health and access to food, safe drinking water, housing, and education are fundamental human rights. The right to health also includes a person’s right to make decisions and control their own body regarding reproductive and sexual health. “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic, or social condition” (Ghebreyesus, 2017).
Policies affecting women’s reproductive and sexual health can become more restrictive with the introduction of a virus. The virus is used to justify restrictive laws, limiting women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Some human rights most relevant to the Zika Virus Epidemic are the right to health, right to freedom of information, non-discrimination, participation, legal and policy context, and accountability (Rasanathan et al., 2017). Women living in countries with restrictions on access to contraception, and safe abortions, face the most significant violations of their human and health rights. “In the most affected region of Latin America, it is estimated that 23 million women have an unmet need for contraception and account for 75% of unintended pregnancies. As many as 95% of pregnancy terminations are performed in unsafe conditions, and several countries criminalize abortion under any circumstance” (Merson et al., 2020). Zika has amplified gender-based discrimination restrictive laws and policies. Instead of restricting female health rights, male contraception should be encouraged, a diagnostic test should be easily accessible, access to safe abortion and post-abortion care sites, and access to information should be available.

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