W.H.O. Declares Zika Virus an International Health Emergency
Amid concern that the Zika virus could cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of the virus a public health emergency. Since May 2015, Zika virus has spread from Brazil to more than 20 countries in Latin America.
"At a news conference in Geneva, Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the W.H.O, said that clusters of microcephaly in regions with Zika cases 'constitute an extraordinary event and a public health threat to other parts of the world.'
"She added that 'international reponse is needed to minimize the threat in infected countries and reduce risk of international spread.' Dr. Chan said case control studies on the connection between Zika and microcephaly will start in the next two weeks.
"The official 'emergency' designation can trigger action and funding from governments and non-profits around the world. It elevates the W.H.O. to the position of global coordinator, and gives its decisions the force of international law."