28 Jan 2016

WHO to hold special session on Zika outbreak

5:03 pm on 28 January 2016

The World Health Organization (WHO) is coming under increasing pressure for quick action against the Zika infection outbreak, which has been linked to thousands of birth defects.

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Photo: AFP

The UN agency will hold a special session tomorrow to discuss its reaction to the health crisis.

Zika is spreading through Latin America and the Caribbean.

Brazil is worst hit, with its government saying the country must wage war against the mosquito that spread the virus, by eliminating stagnant water spots where it bred.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has advised pregnant women to avoid travelling to areas with the disease. New Zealand government website SafeTravel lists Samoa as the only Pacific country with zika.

United States researchers have also called on WHO to take swift action, urging it to heed the lessons of Ebola.

In an article in a leading medical journal, researchers said a special session was needed to consider declaring Zika a serious health crisis, which would allow for global coordination of research and infection control measures.

The leadership of WHO last year admitted to serious missteps in its slow response to the Ebola crisis, which was focused on three West African countries and killed more than 10,000 people.

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