Zika virus could cost Americas region total of $18 million: UN report

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An individual sprays insecticide at a health facility in Cúcuta, Colombia. (file) Photo: PAHO/WHO

The socio-economic cost of the recent spread of the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean will total an estimated US$7 to 18 billion between 2015 and 2017.

That's according to a report launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The virus, transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, has been linked to birth defects and neurological complications.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

The Zika epidemic will have a long-term impact in the Americas, a new report by the UN development programme and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has found. 

It will also disproportionately affect the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the most vulnerable groups within each individual nation. 

Providing an up-to-date analysis of the socio-economic and human development implications of the epidemic, the assessment also focusses on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname. 

Here's Jessica Faieta, the Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

"The cost of Zika in the Latin America and the Caribbean region can span from US$ 7 to 18 billion. The largest costs are associated with microcephaly and the Guillaume-Barre syndrome but the financial impact on tourism is also very vast, particularly in the Caribbean region." 

With research on the Zika virus still on-going, there continues to be considerable uncertainty surrounding the spread and medical conditions associated with the virus. 

The report also strongly recommends that protection programmes and care systems must be adapted and strengthened to reach those in need, including women, girls and persons with disabilities. 

And for any Zika response to be effective, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health must be promoted. 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’28″

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