The World Health Organisation (WHO) has on Wednesday in Geneva warned that Africa, Asia are vulnerable to the spread of Zika virus.
Anthony Costello, WHO Director for Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, said if it was confirmed that the mosquitoes that carried Zika virus, were present in Africa, parts of southern Europe and Asia, particularly South Asia, then there could be a problem.
He said to be on a safe side, the organisation had declared an international public health emergency due to Zika’s link to thousands of recent birth defects in Brazil.
He said WHO had set up a global response unit, which brought together all people across WHO, in headquarters, in the regions, to deal with a formal response using all the lessons they learned from the Ebola crisis.
Costello, also a pediatrician, said the move had become necessary, because there was great concern that Zika could also spread back to other areas of the world where the population may not be immune.
He added the WHO was drafting guidelines for pregnant women and mustering experts to work on a definition of microcephaly including a standardised measurement of baby heads.
He said as a vaccine may be years away, mass community engagement in areas with the mosquitoes and their breeding grounds, and rapid development of diagnostic tools are essential to curbing the virus.