The World Health Organisation has said the outbreak of the Zika Virus should be considered a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, putting the mosquito-borne disease in the same category as ebola, which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.
Experts are predicting there could be four million cases of the virus, which has spread to 23 countries, this year alone.
The alert was recommended by a committee of independent experts to the United Nations agency, following criticism of a hesitant response so far. The move should help fast-track international action and research priorities.
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation has called for a concerted effort to deal with the virus, head-on. She also called as “an extraordinary event”, an unproven scientific theory, that links microencephaly to the Zika virus as a cause. These are her words,
After a review of the evidence the committee advised that the clusters of microcephaly and other neurological complications constitute an extraordinary event and a public health threat to other parts of the world,’ ‘In their view a coordinated international response is needed to minimise the threat in effected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread. Members of the committee agree that the situation meets the conditions for a public health emergency of international concern.
‘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.
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