New global strategic frame work to hand Zika virus: WHO
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.