PAHO acts on Zika Virus as WHO declares it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

Feb 5, 2016

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General convened an Emergency Committee to gather advice on the severity of the health threat associated with the continuing spread of Zika virus disease in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In assessing the level of threat, 18 experts and advisers looked in particular at the strong association, in time and place, between infection with the Zika virus and a rise in detected cases of congenital malformations and neurological complications.

Members of the Committee agreed that the situation meets the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The WHO Director-General further noted that, "a coordinated international response is needed to improve surveillance, the detection of infections, congenital malformations, and neurological complications, to intensify the control of mosquito populations, and to expedite the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines to protect people at risk, especially during pregnancy."

At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women. As such, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is coordinating efforts across Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean to reduce the mosquito population.

PAHO has hosted the following briefings or initiatives:

  • Zika virus briefing to UN staff
  • Donation of Nissan Frontier and two fogging machines to the Ministry of Health in Dominica
  • Donation of GPS unit to the Ministry of Health and the Environment in Antigua and Barbuda
  • Zika virus briefing to Diplomatic community in Barbados

For more information on the Zika Virus, visit the PAHO webpage.


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