Zika No Longer An International Public Health Emergency, But Sustained Response Needed: WHO

By Newsroom America Staff at 21 Nov 2016

(Newsroom America) -- Following a meeting of its Emergency Committee on Zika, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the infectious disease and its associated consequences no longer present a public health emergency of international concern.

But it stressed the need for sustained effort to address the disease, which has been linked to congenital and other neurological disorders.

It said many aspects of this disease and associated consequences still remain to be understood, but this can best be done through sustained research.

The Emergency Committee also recommended that this should be escalated into a sustained programme of work with dedicated resources to address the long-term nature of the disease and its associated consequences.

WHO first declared Zika an international public health emergency in February. Since it was detected in Brazil late last year, the virus has spread through the Americas and the Caribbean to other regions, including Africa, Oceania, and Asia. Zika can cause microcephaly, a rare birth defect that could lead to serious developmental problems, and has also been linked to other severe fetal brain abnormalities.

The agency has also linked Zika to Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

The declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by WHO had led the world to an urgent and coordinated response, providing the understanding that Zika virus infection and associated consequences constitute a highly significant long-term problem that must be managed by WHO, States Parties and other partners in a way that other infectious disease threats are managed.

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