UNDP stands ready to act on Zika virus

Feb 2, 2016

Spraying to prevent mosquitos Photo: UNDP

New York City - UNDP stands ready to join an international response, led by the World Health Organization, to an outbreak of microcephaly and other severe neurological abnormalities, which may have been associated with the mosquito-borne Zika virus. 
“The ongoing spread of the Zika virus is cause for great concern, particularly in relation to the impact the virus is having on individuals, families and communities and the potential impact on development,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. 
Zika is transmitted by the same mosquito which transmits chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever, and is present across much of the Americas, Africa and Asia. Zika has previously been known only as a mild disease, but the suspected link with more than 4,000 cases of children born with birth defects in Brazil alone is alarming. 
“One of the most effective ways to control the spread of mosquito-borne disease is, of course, to control the mosquitos that spread it,” said Helen Clark.  

“Effective control of mosquitoes goes beyond the health sector and includes improving sanitation and living conditions, promoting safer agricultural practices, and addressing barriers to accessing health services. As longer-term strategies, advancing gender equality, improving education, and addressing environmental degradation will be critical.”

Policy analysis can determine how vulnerability is affected by issues such as urban agriculture, housing, gender inequality and education practices. UNDP is ready to support governments upon request and can share expertise on this kind of multi-sectoral approach to combating health threats.

Through a partnership with the Global Fund, UNDP manages malaria programmes in nine countries, and also has strong partnerships with key technical health agencies, regional organisations and civil society.
UNDP can also assist with coordinating community engagement in the response, strengthening supply chains for health products such as bednets, and supporting coordination of the UN system.
Having played a key role in the fight against Ebola in West Africa last year, UNDP also has valuable experience in responding to public health emergencies.

Contact information

Adam Cathro, Communications Specialist, UNDP, +1 212 906 5326, adam.cathro@undp.org.

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