New Delhi: Terming Zika as an “extraordinary event”, World Health Organization on Monday declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”.
WHO Director General Margaret Chan said that a coordinated international response was needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce risk of further international spread.
Noting Zika as a cause of microcephaly, Chan said that, “The experts agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. All agreed on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.”
“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,” she added.
While asserting that no restrictions on travel or trade were required, Chan said that the most important protective measures were control of mosquito population and prevention of mosquito bites in at-risk individual, especially in pregnant women.