Family Planning: Part of the Public Response to Zika
As several international groups rally to fund prevention, surveillance and treatment efforts to combat the Zika virus, the current reality is that the evidence base surrounding this infectious disease is insufficient. The science behind how the virus spreads, how to properly diagnose and treat it, and what, if any, link exists between the virus and newborn health is scant. While a number of vaccines are in the pipeline and regulatory pathways may be expedited in response to this public health crisis, research takes time. In the meanwhile, the health and well-being of women and their families in many countries of the Americas is at stake. Until a link between the virus and newborn health is established, a short-term goal must be to invest in ways to avoid unintended pregnancy. As noted in a recent Huffington Post blog, expanding access to evidence-based reproductive health services is essential. For example, ensuring the availability of long-acting reversible contraceptives—intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants—and permanent methods, such as vasectomy and tubal ligation, would be a noteworthy investment during the current Zika public health crisis.
Additionally, as Zika vaccine development efforts progress, there may be opportunities for researchers focused on infectious diseases to share lessons learned with colleagues looking at contraceptive technology. This could include strategies for innovative clinical trial design or accelerated regulatory approval of new products in the global context. Researchers in both fields are encouraged to use and contribute relevant resources to the CTI Exchange resource library. Please contact us if you have materials or insights to share.