The Zika Virus: The Existential Threat To The UN Sustainable Development Goals?

By Rebecca Theodore

UNITED NATIONS – Oceans are warming.   Glacial and alpine   ice are   melting.   Human thinking is shrouded   by dust clouds. Heat waves   magnify the effects. Floods are   trailed by disease clusters and a mosquito borne infection is the   new   existential   threat to the UN sustainable   development goals.

Undoubtedly, the rapid rise of the Zika   virus is turning into a full-on global health crisis.

Whereas, the   United   Nations   sustainable development goals   is heralded as the most intricate social progression in UN history, as one where   every country benefits   from continual, wide-ranging and sustainable economic growth and progress and the obliteration of poverty, hunger and disease, the   ascension of the Zika virus upon the scene lament a   different   tale.

According to the   World   Health Organization (WHO) there could be up to 4 million cases   of   the Zika   virus   and that high global emissions coupled with fast population growth, the number of people exposed to the Zika virus could double to as many as 8 billion or 9 billion by the late of the century.

Moreover, the Center for Disease Control (CDC’s) deputy director, Dr. Anne Schuchat explains    that in the continental US, there have been people reportedly infected with the virus including 69 pregnant women.

But it is in the northeast of Brazil, where   135 million people have no running water, access to sewage systems, and where   garbage collection is non existent that   much    attention   must   be   diverted.

Here is witnessed a dramatic rise   in the spread   of the Zika virus, convoyed   by an unparalleled rise in the number of children   born   with unusually small heads   recognized as microcephaly. World Health Organization (WHO) have also linked the Zika virus to Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults and other severe fetal brain abnormalities. Further reports indicate that Zika infections are rising into the hundreds of thousands, with hundreds of affected babies, stirring a heated debate   on abortion, and  planned  parenthood  funding  and increasing the risk of poverty and   illness   among women.

All the same, the Zika virus   has placed   the lives of mothers, fetuses and   new born   at risk    in countries where maternal, prenatal and   infant health are    neglected and underfunded. New information confirms that the US Caribbean territory of   Puerto Rico unveils 1,500 new cases of Zika each week.  This means that   other Caribbean islands stand   prone to a widespread transmission of the Zika virus as Caribbean states are cemented   by severe limited health care and deteriorating health care systems.  Bared   in    tropical heat that is favorable to the breeding   of the mosquito that allegedly produces the virus, more cases of the virus are expected to rise in the Caribbean.

Viewing    the   vulnerability of the vilified poor’s economic and medical malaise to the Zika virus, it is evident that the mission of the   UN sustainable development goals does not afford   much reassurance to backward societies at this stage. It would even be good to agree with experts   and blame the massive wave of urbanization, Malthusian   population growth and   international travel as a main reason for the outbreak of the Zika virus. Maybe biodiversity and climate change could also be interjected   as another possible variable, but   the blatant  disregard of  social  organizations,  abortion rights,  the gutting of social programs and the   upholding of capitalistic hegemony in health care   disputes in the United States   must   also be taken into consideration.

And    while all this is taking   place    social inequality    widens.

The blatant   rejection   of   $2 billion to confront the Zika crisis by  a  US Republican   controlled   Congress    proves that Zika reflects a new   racial, class and geographical status    based   inequality. “Republicans are more interested in attacking Planned Parenthood and flying a Confederate flag, than protecting women and  babies   from this  awful  virus.” It also    opens   the discussion   for serious   enquiries on the    advancement of humanity’s    health and progress   by leading corporate   groups and organizations in the United States, and mirrors   the   weakness of the United Nations sustainable development   goals in  fighting   contagious diseases in the  world  at  large.

Altogether, the Ziska virus    amplifies the problem of   the maligned   poor’s    inaccessibility   to health care, and an existential threat to the   UN   sustainable development   goals.

How    then can   the United Nations    succumb   to   17 sustainable development   goals as a lifeline   to poverty and disease while the basic needs of humanity are derailed by a ruling elite and corporate oligarchy that only    seek social answers   on marketable   profit?

Why is there no money  to protect mothers, the   extreme poor and infants and others from the tragic dangers of the Zika virus when the Sustainable Development Solutions Network estimated that $2-3 trillion a year was available to deliver the needs of the Sustainable   development   goals?

Simply put, the failure of the United   Nations to retort to this public health crisis and the UN’s inability to develop a vaccine to prevent the   Zika   virus, while at the same time pumping billions into nuclear armaments and scientific   and technological discoveries, shows that the Zika virus is an illness entrenched in poverty and social inequality.

It is clear that if   the UN must seek to    eliminate the circumstances of poverty and suppression through its   sustainable development goals, then there must be a halting to    the   habit of   organizing   health care  and treating  epidemics   along class and racial lines. The UN must now seek to    provide a   guideline for   pharmaceutical companies to follow in the   manufacture and sale of vaccines for contagious diseases.  The way in which    pharmaceutical companies     govern the right to bargain prices in developing   a vaccine for the Zika virus   further      speculate   that the     disease  could be one of   capitalistic glory where the stakes are very   high.

Consequently, if the   United Nations   sustainable development goals   is to navigate the course   of global change   to an unprejudiced and justifiable future for all  humanity and   achieve   its 2030 outcome, then although the Marxist   dictum of capitalism is worn out    in   sociological   reasoning;  the blemishing   impact of market   forces   still replicate the unhealthy supremacy of the capitalist system where health care is concerned.   Individual freedom and equality to health care do not   echo the   same tune to that of the poor and the underprivileged as it does to that of the   capitalist because the settings of the marginalized poor   are linked to disease and injustice that are rife with peril.

The capitalistic notion on which the   sustainable   goals   are founded is leading to   discrimination and unequal concentration of wealth and power especially where   health care is concern.  Therefore, the  UN must pursue  a more resolute  approach  in reorganizing its Sustainable Development goals foundations   on a socialist framework to satisfy social wants and not   corporate profits.

(Rebecca  Theodore  is  a syndicated op-ed  columnist based   in Washington  DC.  She   writes   on   the platform   of  national   security,   politics  and   human   rights.  Follow her on  twitter @rebethd)

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