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Public health

The high economic cost of Zika in Brazil

NiaidZika virus (orange circles) isolated from a child with microcephalyNiaid

The amount spent by families and public health agencies for each child born in 2015 or 2016 with severe Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS) is forecast to reach R$258,000 in 10 years. This is much higher than the amount spent on children with the moderate form of the syndrome (R$150,000) and those without Zika (R$63,000), according to a study by specialists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), and the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE). The researchers evaluated 12 recurring cost categories per child in the first three years of life—such as visits to medical services, hospitalization, medication, prostheses, and others—through interviews with 484 caregivers, of which 213 were from Recife, the epicenter of the CZS epidemic in 2015–2017, and 271 were from Rio de Janeiro, which served as a control group because the region was less affected. The study indicated that the government is covering 97% of the economic costs of medical care for children with severe CZS, but only 46% in moderate cases. Between late 2015 and the end of 2019, 3,474 children were diagnosed with microcephaly, one of the manifestations of Zika (BMJ Global Health, July).