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Brazil: Zika Epidemic Exposes Rights Problems

Government Announced Emergency Over, But Major Risks Remain

Thursday 13 July 2017

(Sao Paulo, July 13, 2017) – Brazil has not addressed longstanding human rights problems that allowed the Zika outbreak to escalate, leaving the population vulnerable to future outbreaks and other serious public health risks, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government declared an end to the national public health emergency related to the Zika virus in May 2017, but the Zika threat in Brazil remains.

The 103-page report, “Neglected and Unprotected: The Impact of the Zika Outbreak on Women and Girls in Northeastern Brazil,” documents gaps in the Brazilian authorities’ response that have a harmful impact on women and girls and leave the general population vulnerable to continued outbreaks of serious mosquito-borne illnesses. The outbreak hit as the country faced its worst economic recession in decades, forcing authorities to make difficult decisions about allocating resources. But even in earlier times of economic growth, government investments in water and sanitation infrastructure were inadequate. Years of neglect contributed to the water and wastewater conditions that allowed the proliferation of the Aedes mosquito and the rapid spread of the virus, Human Rights Watch found.

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