The World Health Organization (WHO) recently organized an emergency committee to assess the severeness of the threat from the Zika virus.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan put the committee together, which is allowed under international health regulations. There were 18 experts on the committee. They took into account the time and place of the virus, as well as the infection rates and the health issues it can cause.
“The experts agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven,” Chan said. “All agreed on the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.”
Other issues raised by the committee were the rate of the spread of the virus and the lack of testing and vaccines available in the market. The committee came together to say that the spread of the virus is a significant event and is a threat to public health.
“In their view, a coordinated international response is needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread,” Chan said. “Members of the committee agreed that the situation meets the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. I have accepted this advice.”
An international response is now expected to combat the disease.