This week, OTCs are in Action against the symptoms of the Zika virus, a rapidly spreading disease for which there are no vaccines or cures. The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommend treatment with acetaminophen (paracetamol) but not aspirin or NSAIDs until dengue can be ruled out. However, there is perhaps more that OTCs can do in addition to ameliorating the minor symptoms that affect one in five people with the virus.
The real threat of Zika is its association with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and the autoimmune neurological syndrome, Guillain-Barré. As a result, health authorities in Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador have warned women to not get pregnant. The problem is, in many South American countries, there are significant cultural and economic barriers to obtaining contraception.
Amma Saloranta, communications director for Girls’ Globe, blogged for The Huffington Post: “Releasing reliable and factual information about the Zika virus is absolutely crucial for pregnant women to be able to take necessary precautions to minimise their risk of getting infected, but providing that information is only a tiny part of the efforts that need to be undertaken to protect women and their babies from the disease. Without the tools — sexual education, family planning services and contraceptives — telling women to “delay pregnancy” is, in all honesty, total hypocrisy. It’s like telling a person standing in the rain to “not get wet” and not give them an umbrella — despite the fact that you’re holding the umbrella in your hand.”
Perhaps OTCs can be in action to help open the umbrella of safe & effective OTC contraceptive options in South America.