Pacific Community in support of WHO Zika findings
The World Health Organisation says new research has strengthened the link between the Zika virus and foetal abnormalities, and they say sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously thought.
The World Health Organisation says new research has strengthened links between the Zika virus and foetal abnormalities.
They say sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously thought.
The WHO convened emergency talks on Zika for the second time this week in Geneva.
They also say there is mounting strong evidence that the Zika virus is a cause of the auto-immune disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome.
As of this year, six countries in the Pacific have active Zika cases.
The acting deputy director for public health for the Pacific Community, Dr Salanieta Saketa spoke with Bridget Grace about the findings.
Dr Salanieta Saketa: The new evidence of the transmission from mother to child transmission, I think that's really important. Particularly making sure that enhanced precautionary measures are taken with the women who are pregnant, particularly in countries that are currently having Zika. And also it's relation with other neurological complications as alluded to, which was Guillian-Barre syndrome and the impact it can have. Particularly in health systems of the Pacific where they do not have that much in terms of clinical services that could actually support these sorts of care, for those that need long-term support. So we just stress the importance of the prevention and control of mosquitoes and avoidance of mosquito bites.
Bridget Grace: In the findings it also mentioned about how there was now more research about the sexual transmission, do you think there's enough awareness of that in the Pacific?
DSS: There's been some communication around that, but we still think there needs to be more. That's a real worry and concern for Pacific island countries. Particularly in the sense that a lot of countries, have young populations that are sexually active, and so we need to increase communication.
BG: And is that something that the SPC I guess would be encouraging countries to be doing, in terms of increasing education?
DSS: There's been a lot of work that SPC is doing to try and not only gather information and be able to share that through our communications which we have, and then just advising health authorities on what precautionary measures they need to undertake.
BG: And in the Pacific region do you think enough is being done in relation to the situation?
DSS: Just proving enough evidence I guess, is one of the key things we'd like to encourage countries to do. And at the same time we're also working with the WHO to try and and improve access to testing for countries to be able to confirm Zika.
BG: Do countries in the Pacific have the resources to do that?
DSS: Very few to be honest. Very few have. A majority of the countries would need some assistance.
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