Zika no longer constitutes public health emergency of international concern – WHO

The World Health Organization(WHO)Friday announced that Zika outbreaks and associated neurological abnormality have no longer constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) while requires a robust longer-term technical mechanism to manage the global response.

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A doctor examines a larva of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the carrier of Zika virus, in a laboratory of the Ministry of Health, in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Jan. 29, 2016. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said it would convene an International Health Regulations emergency committee on the Zika virus to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.(Xinhua/Kent Gilbert) (jp) (sp)
A doctor examines a larva of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the carrier of Zika virus, in a laboratory of the Ministry of Health, in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Jan. 29, 2016. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said it would convene an International Health Regulations emergency committee on the Zika virus to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.(Xinhua/Kent Gilbert) (jp) (sp)

The announcement came after the fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee on Zika, microcephaly and other neurological disorders convened by WHO on Friday afternoon.

The committee originally recommended a PHEIC in February 2016 on the basis of an extraordinary cluster of microcephaly and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia and geographic and temporal association with Zika virus infection which required urgent and coordinated research.

Even though research has now demonstrated the link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly, the committee said many aspects of this virus and associated consequences still remain to be understood, but this can best be done through sustained research.

The committee agreed that Zika virus and associated consequences remain a significant enduring public health challenge, requiring intense action but no longer represent a PHEIC.

It recommended that Zika response should be escalated into a sustained program of work with dedicated resources to address the long-term nature of the disease and its associated consequences. Based on this advice, the director-general declared the end of the PHEIC.

However, Pete Salama, executive director of WHO newly established Health Emergency Program warned in a virtual press briefing that”the virus has continuous spread geographically to areas where there is a competent vector, all countries with aedes mosquitoes are potentially at risk for mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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