Society for Medical Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Ruth Iguiñiz-Romero (Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia)
Zika remains a public health concern in areas with endemic Aedes Aegypti mosquito populations. This area spans the low-lying regions of most of South and Central America and the Caribbean. While mosquito eradication campaigns are the most visible public health response, other ongoing prevention efforts are necessary. According to the World Health Organization, contraceptive counseling should be one of the main avenues of prevention due to the large number of asymptomatic cases (up to 80%) and the broad time window for sexual transmission (~ 6 months). However, the uptake of sexual and reproductive health related recommendations has been slow, if at all. I am inspired by Shore, Wright and Peró (2011:2) to view Zika policy responses as a window to understand changing webs of meaning and subjects in a new endemic situation. I analyze how clinic midwives and nurses view their role in Zika policy response and explore their perspectives within the context of growing conservative backlash against gender identity and sexual health education in Peru. I draw on data collected through two focus groups (1 nurses-1 midwives) and 21 in-depth semi-structured interviews with nurses (5) and clinic midwives (16) representing the eight primary care centers in a rural health network in Piura, Peru. I argue that limits to contraceptive counseling expansion in the context of Zika are a result of persistent siloed domains of policy response at the regional level, but also increasingly discomfort and doubt in the effects of contraceptive counseling from health providers.