The scare of Zika virus has prompted the Philippines government, urging women to delay pregnancy until more is known about the virus.
Health Minister Janet Garin said this has become necessary because much remains unknown about Zika, but the virus has been linked to thousands of cases of birth defects in Latin America.
She advised that those who are not in a hurry to get pregnant may postpone and wait next year when there would be more clue to the virus.
The minister suggested the practice of family planning methods for now.
Garin said she was also asking Filipinos to avoid Zika-affected countries because “travelers, who contracted the disease abroad, may then transmit the virus sexually to their partners”.
Lyndon Lee-Suy, Spokesman for the Health Ministry, said the scare over Zika has been heightened by warnings from the Pan American Health Organisation that in a few cases the virus could have been sexually transmitted.
He said the Philippines sole reported case of Zika was in 2012 and involved a teenage boy in Cebu Island in central Philippines.
“While we do not have any reported cases as of now here in the Philippines, we know that the threat is there.
“Even the husbands should be aware of the risks of pregnancy,” he said.
Lee-Suy said government was seeking to implement a controversial reproductive health law and the state has commenced the promotion of the use of contraceptives.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Oscar Cruz, an outspoken Roman Catholic Bishop, has accused the health minister of using the scare over Zika to suggest people practice family planning.
“It is beyond her competence to say that. Is it in her job description to say when women may get pregnant or not,’’ he said.
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