World Health Organization Declares Zika Virus a Global Health Emergency


The World Health Organization (WHO) raised the mosquito-borne Zika virus crisis to its highest alert level today. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, M.D., made the announcement amid growing concern that Zika causes birth defects such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.


At the press conference in Geneva, Dr. Chan called Zika an “extraordinary event and a public health threat to many parts of the world.” An international emergency declaration from the WHO can lead to action and funding from governments and non-profits. Dr. Chan added that given the seriousness of the conditions being reported, the consequences of waiting to elevate the Zika alert were too great a risk to take.


News Reports on the WHO Press Conference

WiRED International provides free, Zika modules that can be downloaded in English, Portuguese and Spanish for general audiences and community health workers. WiRED also provides an electronic version of a Pan American Health Organization’s paper on Zika infection and pregnancy. The WiRED website home page contains a newly created Zika section which gives links to WiRED’s Zika training materials, news updates, a press release and backgrounder.


Since Zika has no vaccines, special treatments or cures, education and prevention are key to addressing this illness and the expanding crisis. WiRED has reported on Zika in earlier stories and will continue to offer accurate and up-to-date health information as long as the disease and its consequences remain a danger.