WHO declares global emergency over Zika
02 February 2015, Nirapad News: A disease linked to the Zika virus in Latin America poses a global public health emergency requiring a united response, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO alert puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola, reports the BBC.
This categorization means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.
Experts are worried that the virus is spreading far and fast, with devastating consequences.
The infection has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains.
There have been around 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil alone since October.
WHO director general, Margaret Chan called Zika an “extraordinary event” that needed a coordinated response.
“I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014 constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.”
She said the priorities were to protect pregnant women and their babies from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.
She advised pregnant women to consider delaying travel to areas affected by Zika and seek advice from their physician if they are living in areas affected by Zika, as well as protect themselves against mosquito bites by wearing repellent.
Dr Chan justified declaring an emergency even amid uncertainties about the disease, saying it was time to take action.
The WHO faced heavy criticism for waiting too long to declare the Ebola outbreak a public emergency.