Zika No Longer Represents a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

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The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Zika is no longer a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) earlier this month.

WHO announced this decision at the fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) on Zika and microcephaly convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) several months after declaring Zika a PHEIC in February 2016.

The International Health Regulations defines PHEIC as “an extraordinary event which is determined…to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease; and to potentially require a coordinated international response.”

“The EC originally recommended a PHEIC in February 2016 on the basis of an extraordinary cluster of microcephaly and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia and geographic and temporal association with Zika virus infection which required urgent and coordinated and research. Because research has now demonstrated the link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly, the EC felt that a robust longer-term technical mechanism was now required to manage the global response.”

Since the link between Zika and microcephaly has been discovered and highlighted, the EC felt that Zika remains a significant enduring public health challenge requiring action but is no longer a PHEIC.

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