New Zika response plan announced

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The Zika virus has been linked to neurological complications in newborns, such as microcephaly, characterised by a smaller-than-average head. Photo: PAHO/Harold Ruiz

A new approach to tackling the Zika virus is needed which focuses more on preventing and managing the medical complications it causes, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.

Daniel Johnson reports from Geneva.

Announcing a revised Zika strategic response plan in Geneva, WHO also called for greater international cooperation, adding that a vaccine could take "at least 36 months" to develop.

The agency says that more than US$120 million will be needed over the next 18 months to deal with the disease outbreak, which it describes as a global health threat.

Here's WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic:

"So this strategy will place greater focus on preventing and managing medical complications caused by Zika virus infection, by providing counselling and treatment if necessary to pregnant women, partners, households, and infected people, and we'll also work with communities trying to have enough capacity at health systems to provide the necessary support to communities."

Zika, which has been reported in 60 countries and territories, mainly in the Americas, has been linked to birth defects and neurological complications.

It is mainly transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but also by sexual contact.

For the Zika response plan announced in February, WHO received just over US$4 million, which was less than 20 per cent of funding needs.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'18"

 

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