WHO launches global response to address Zika outbreaks
Mosquito larvae grow in water of a house in San Salvador, capital of El Salvador, on Feb. 3, 2016. (Xinhua/Oscar Machon/Diario El Mundo El Salvador)
GENEVA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday launched global response to address the ongoing spread of Zika virus infection and the neonatal malformations and neurological conditions associated with it.
The "ZIKA Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan", covered the period of January to June, focused on mobilizing and coordinating partners, experts and resources to help countries enhance surveillance of the Zika virus and disorders that could be linked to it.
The plan is also to help improve vector control, effectively communicate risks, guidance and protection measures, provide medical care to those affected and fast-track research and development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
WHO said 56 million U.S. dollars is required to implement the response plan, of which 25 million dollars would fund the WHO response and 31 million dollars would fund the work of key partners.
In the interim, WHO tapped a recently established emergency contingency fund to finance its initial operations.
As part of WHO's new emergency program, the agency's headquarters activated an Incident Management System to oversee the global response and leverage expertise from across the organization to address the crisis.
WHO's Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO/PAHO) has been working closely with affected countries since May 2015, when the first reports of Zika virus disease emerged from northeastern Brazil.
AMRO/PAHO and partner specialists were deployed to help health ministries detect and track the virus, contain its spread, advise on clinical management of Zika and investigate the spikes in microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome in areas where Zika outbreaks have occurred.
AMRO/PAHO will continue to work with partners to manage the response in the Americas.
Working with partners, WHO is also mapping efforts to develop vaccines, therapies, diagnostic tests and new vector control tactics and putting in place mechanisms to expedite data sharing, product development and clinical trials.
On Feb. 1, based on recommendations of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, WHO declared the increasing cases of neonatal and neurological disorders, amid the growing Zika outbreak in the Americas, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.