Implementing effective health interventions in recent epidemics has been difficult due to the potentially global nature of their spread and sociocultural dynamics, raising questions concerning how to develop culturally-appropriate preventive measures, and how these health threats are understood locally. In Belize, health policy makers have only been marginally effective in managing infections and mosquito vectors, and Zika has been declared endemic in multiple regions of the country, particularly on the island of Caye Caulker. With one locally confirmed case of microcephaly on this small island already, this disease has the potential to severely impact the health and wellness of pregnant women and future generations. Based on ethnographic and Geographic Information Systems research conducted primarily in 2017, I examine how perspectives of Zika-related health risk are shaped, and how state interventions to manage Zika are understood. I argue that despite its declared endemic status, Zika is not perceived as a true health concern for community members due to numerous neoliberal structural challenges. Moreover, the state's restrictive form of reproductive governance which limits family planning services is forcing individuals to weigh conflicting conceptions of health consequences. This also contributes to an ambiguous healthcare environment for health practitioners, giving them an unclear picture of the scope of Zika as a public health concern and limiting their ability to treat patients. This thesis also considers how critical medical anthropology and feminist analytical approaches are useful in exploring these questions and contributing to understandings of the health impacts of Zika.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Gray, Deven, "Managing an Epidemic: Zika Interventions and Community Responses in Belize" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6216.