WHO needs better approach to Zika virus spread

Photo Courtesy of popsci.com
Photo Courtesy of popsci.com

Hannah Delzell


Since early January, the Zika virus has gained global recognition. According to National Public Radio, Zika virus is a mosquito borne illness that causes cold-like symptoms, but for pregnant women the malarial disease could be far worse. Zika may be causing a birth defect in babies known as microcephaly that causes babies to be born with small heads and brain damage.

Zika has severely affected Brazil and there have been reported cases in the Caribbean, Mexico and parts of Africa. A few cases have been discovered in the United States and according to the British Broadcasting Corporation, a patient infected in Texas sexually contracted the disease from a partner who returned from Venezuela.

“It is spreading through the Americas, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the disease linked to the virus a global public health emergency,” accord-ing to BBC.
But according to NPR this virus has been going on in Brazil since May 2015. So why has it taken so long for WHO to respond?

According to the New York Times, Brazil is preparing to host the Olympics this summer, and any ban on travel would create a severe problem with Brazilian government.

While WHO declared a global public health emergency on Monday, Feb. 1 2016, it wasn’t until the disease started to affect North America and create panic in the mind of travelers that WHO stepped in. The United States brings in a lot of revenue for the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. Brazil, this year especially, is needing all the financial assistance it can receive from the summer Olympics.

According to the New York Times, who is researching pregnant women in different parts of South Africa to see how the virus has affected them. But WHO didn’t step in until the Center for Disease and Control in the United States started warning women against travel to those nations. Instead of fixing the problem in low-income countries when it was first reported, WHO has invested a higher interest in satisfying the fear within the first-world nations.

“More than 3,500 microcephaly cases were reported in Brazil between October 2015 and January 2016,” according to NPR. And the number is still growing. Many Brazilian heath officials have suggested that women put-off having a child.

“But many health experts said Monday’s announcement lacked details, and they expressed concern that it would not jolt the agency into action. Among the most urgent needs, experts said, were aggressive efforts to control the populations of mosquitoes that spread Zika and know no boundaries,” according to the New York Times.

Nations like Sierra Leone, Haiti or Madagascar will face hard times if the virus starts to flourish in the third-world countries.

If pregnant women contract the disease in those countries or countries similar, it could have damaging effects on the families that could already be struggling financially.

There needs to be a game plan. WHO or other health agencies around the world need to start by finding a way to control the mosquitos.

If there is nothing put in place to get rid of the bugs, then the illness will continue to thrive and spread.


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