New global strate­gic frame work to hand Zika virus: WHO

Bhutan Times - - Home - Sonam Pen­jor

Re­cently with the out­break of Zika virus, now World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) has launched a global strate­gic re­sponse frame­work and joint op­er­a­tions plan to guide the in­ter­na­tional re­sponse to the spread of Zika virus in­fec­tion and the neona­tal mal­for­ma­tions and neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions as­so­ci­ated with it.

Ac­cord­ing to WHO, the strat­egy fo­cuses 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, 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 stated that epi­demics of Zika virus dis­ease may oc­cur glob­ally since en­vi­ron­ments where mos­qui­toes can live and breed are in­creas­ing due to re­cent trends in­clud­ing cli­mate change, rapid ur­ban­iza­tion and glob­al­iza­tion.

Other Aedes species are be­lieved to be com­pe­tent vec­tors for Zika virus and have a much far­ther ge­o­graph­i­cal reach. For ex­am­ple, Aedes al­bopic­tus is found in tem­per­ate cli­mates.

It fur­ther stated that, en­gage com­mu­ni­ties to com­mu­ni­cate the risks as­so­ci­ated with Zika virus dis­ease and pro­motes pro­tec­tive be­hav­iors, re­duce anx­i­ety, ad­dress stigma, dis­pel ru­mors and cul­tural mis­per­cep­tions.

More­over, in­crease ef­forts to Con­trol the spread of the Aedes and po­ten­tially other mos­quito species as well as pro­vide ac­cess to per­sonal pro­tec­tion mea­sures equip­ment and sup­plies.

Pro­vide guid­ance and mit­i­gate the po­ten­tial im­pact on women of child­bear­ing age and those who are preg­nant, as well as fam­i­lies with chil­dren af­fected by Zika virus.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zika strate­gic re­sponse frame­work & joint op­er­a­tions plan Jan­uary- June 2016 stated that Lab­o­ra­tory ca­pac­ity to test for Zika virus in­fec­tion will be ex­panded and other dis­eases rel­e­vant to their na­tional con­text will be en­sured. This in­cludes up­grad­ing ex­ist­ing lab­o­ra­tory ca­pac­i­ties, and en­abling coun­tries to ac­cess and use Rea Time Poly­merase Chain Re­ac­tion (RT PCR) tests in par­tic­u­lar, and other di­ag­nos­tics tools.

A di­ag­nos­tic al­go­rithm will be de­vel­oped for Zika virus to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween other rel­e­vant dis­eases present in the con­text of the coun­try (e.g. dengue, chikun­gunya, dengue, yel­low fever). Timely shar­ing of data us­ing ex­ist­ing net­works (e.g. dengue) will also be en­sured.

Rapid re­sponse in­ter­na­tional alert, risk as­sess­ment and lab­o­ra­tory ca­pac­i­ties (e.g. GOARN, and the French Na­tional Re­search Agency) will be made avail­able to sup­port na­tional ef­forts for readi­ness, rapid out­break re­sponse and field in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

It also stated that health work­ers will be trained, em­pow­ered and en­abled to com­mu­ni­cate risk, pro­vide ad­vice and spe­cial­ized coun­sel­ing to those af­fected by Zika virus dis­ease. Fam­ily plan­ning and an­te­na­tal care units, as well as so­cial ser­vices for fam­i­lies will be strength­ened and ex­panded to re­spond to in­creased de­mand for in­for­ma­tion, coun­sel­ing and sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health com­modi­ties.

WHO said that $56 mil­lion is re­quired to im­ple­ment the Strate­gic Re­sponse Frame­work and Joint Op­er­a­tions Plan, of which $25 mil­lion would fund the WHO/AMRO/PAHO re­sponse and $31 mil­lion would fund the work of key part­ners. In the in­terim, WHO has tapped a re­cently es­tab­lished emer­gency con­tin­gency fund to fi­nance its ini­tial op­er­a­tions?

As part of WHO’s new emer­gency pro­gramme, 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 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 min­istry’s de­tect and track the virus, con­tain its spread, ad­vise on clin­i­cal man­age­ment of Zika and in­ves­ti­gate the spikes in mi­cro­cephaly and Guil­lain-Barré syn­drome in ar­eas where Zika out­breaks have oc­curred. AMRO/ PAHO will con­tinue to work with part­ners to man­age the re­sponse in the Amer­i­cas.

While, WHO is also is­su­ing reg­u­lar in­for­ma­tion and guid­ance on the con­gen­i­tal and neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions as­so­ci­ated with Zika virus dis­ease, as well as re­lated health, safety and travel is­sues.

Work­ing with a part­ner, WHO is 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.

Mean­while, on 1st Fe­bru­ary 2016, 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.

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