@Oneillinstitute Global Health Scholar Reacts to @WHO’s Decision on #Zika #PHEIC
Article ID: 665113
Released: 18-Nov-2016 12:05 PM EST
Source Newsroom: O'Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law
WASHINGTON (Nov. 18, 2016) -- Georgetown global health and law expert Lawrence O. Gostin says today’s decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee to lift the “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC) for Zika is “quite worrying.”
The Emergency Committee met earlier today to determine if “Zika and observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations” continued to meet criteria for a PHEIC.
“As a technical matter, Zika is no longer spreading at the level usually considered for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” says Gostin, Faculty Director for the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and University Professor. “But there are good reasons to maintain the emergency. While we are entering the winter in the global north, the global south will soon enter the summer, which is a high-risk period for Zika. Plus Zika continues to spread to other countries.
“I think the international response to Zika has been lethargic, and with WHO’s action to call off the global emergency, it has provided reason for governments and donors to pull back even more. That is a recipe for the very lack of preparedness the world has seen time and again with infectious diseases.
“There is precedent for maintaining an emergency although there is no longer uncontrolled spread of disease. For example, there remain only a handful of polio cases, yet outbreaks have deeply concerned international public health experts. The potential of the Zika virus to spread and cause birth defects in the next generation warrant continual watchfulness, research, and global action.”
To speak to Gostin, please contact him at email@example.com.
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