According to previous reports, there have been several accounts of Zika virus outbreaks in the past few years. In 2007, the island of Micronesia has charted 180 confirmed cases of Zika infection while in 2013 11% of the residents of French Polynesia were reportedly affected by the disease. However it was not until the drastic pandemic that ravaged Brazil in 2015 that the virus has risen to the spotlight.
To date, Brazil has charted around 500,00 to 1.5 million residents who have suffered from the virus. In the same year, over 3,000 babies were born afflicted by microcephaly - the genetic defect associated with Zika. Because of the sudden and alarming spread, the World Health Organization has since made efforts in order to hamper further outbreaks.
This week Margaret Chan, WHO director general, has since spoken about the threat of the Zika virus. According to Chan, while Zika is not particularly a fatal disease, its speculated relationship to birth defects is cause enough for alarm. Furthermore in her speech , she outlined four reasons why quick action against another outbreak is imperative.
"First, the possible association of infection with birth malformations and neurological syndromes. Second, the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector. Third, the lack of population immunity in newly affected areas. Fourth, the absence of vaccines" explained Chan.
In the same statement, Chan has announced the creation of an emergency committee that would deal with the Zika problem saying:
"For all these reasons, I have decided to convene an emergency committee under the international health regulations" announced the WHO secretary general in her recent statement.
The committee is scheduled to meet on Monday, February 1, 2016. Following their discussion, it is expected that the group would advise affected countries on the proposed responses and solutions to the Zika virus.