Zika Virus: Latin America Needs $8.5 Million for Global Health Emergency Fund

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Feb 04, 2016 05:30 AM EST

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JANUARY 26: Dr. Angela Rocha (C), pediatric infectologist at Oswaldo Cruz Hospital, examines Ludmilla Hadassa Dias de Vasconcelos (2 months), who has microcephaly, on January 26, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. At least twelve cases in the United States have now been confirmed by the CDC. Brazil reported the first cases in the Americas of local transmissions of the virus last year. (Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced this week that an estimated $8.5 million in funds is needed to combat the Zika virus outbreak.

The Zika virus, which is linked to the influx of babies being born with unusually small heads or microcephaly in Brazil, is rapidly spreading through the Americas.

"We are mobilizing resources and estimate that we'll need $8.5 million to adequately help our members respond to this," said PAHO director Carissa Etienne, as reported by Fox News.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has declared war on the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that carry them. The outbreak is now considered a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO).

President Rousseff announced that the national mobilisation day will be on Saturday where the military and state employees will be combating the Zika mosquito carrier, Aedes aegypti in places where they breed in homes and offices.

"All of us need to take part in this battle," she said in a TV address to the nation, as reported by BBC. "We need help and good will from everyone. Collaborate, mobilise your family and your community.

"I will insist, since science has not yet developed a vaccine against the Zika virus, that the only efficient method we have to prevent this illness is the vigorous battle against the mosquito."

Ms. Rousseff added that resources have been released to fight the mosquitoes. She also released words of comfort to mothers and would-be mothers in her address.

"We will do everything, absolutely everything in our reach to protect you. We will do everything, absolutely everything we can to offer support to the children affected by microcephaly and their families."

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan declared the outbreak an emergency even though some things about the disease are unclear.

She declared the Zika outbreak "a Public Health Emergency of International Concern," in a press release. She justified it is taking immediate coordinated action as the alert for the disease is in the same category as the Ebola. There is no current vaccine, treatment or reliable diagnostic test for the disease which further spurns the concern.

"A coordinated international response is needed to improve surveillance, the detection of infections, congenital malformations, and neurological complications, to intensify the control of mosquito populations, and to expedite the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines to protect people at risk, especially during pregnancy," she said.

However, there are no travel and trade restrictions for the disease. She advised for people in affected areas to take protective steps to avoid getting bitten especially at-risk groups and pregnant women.

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