It is easy for people who are currently safe from the Zika virus to tell women to refrain from getting pregnant because the virus could harm their babies, but it isn't that easy for the women in Haiti, according to Christian missionary Dr. David Vanderpool, who is in Thomazeau, Haiti trying to address the alarming outbreak of the Zika virus there.
"People assume that women in Haiti, you know, would have the same access to birth control that American women would, and it's just not true. The Haitian woman may not have a choice in sex. The sex may not be consensual at all. And so just enjoining people not to have babies is probably not going to be very effective," he said during an interview with NPR.
Some women there have to prostitute themselves because their families are hungry or sick, added Vanderpool. They are the "poorest of the poor" and therefore have no access to clean water, nutritional support, and medical care.
There would be people who think that abortion would be the best answer to the current issue, so as to avoid giving birth to babies with deformities. But for the missionary, abortion is clearly not the solution.
"You know, in my opinion, abortion is not a good answer. I think that our answer's going to lie in proper birth control and adequate vaccines. You know, we've known this virus has been around since 1947. We could have come up with a cure many, many years ago so that we wouldn't even be having this conversation," said Vanderpool.
What the doctor supports is contraception, and this is why he has spent the last few years teaching the women of Haiti how to use contraception.
"Many of our ladies will be pregnant 16 times in their life. About half of those pregnancies, the children will survive until age five. We see that with each pregnancy, they lose about 20 percent of their body weight, and the toll is extreme. And it's one of the reasons that Haiti has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world," he said.