WHO declared a public health emergency about Zika’s effects. Here are three takeaways

February 2, 2016 7:39 PM

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WHO declared a public health emergency about Zika’s effects. Here are three takeaways

Last Thursday, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, announced that she would convene an expert Emergency Committee to determine whether the Zika virus presents a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC, pronounced “fake”). Zika, which is “spreading explosively” throughout Latin America, appears to be associated with a steep increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, whose symptoms are abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains. It also appears linked to a rise in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a neurological condition causing (usually) temporary paralysis.

On Monday, WHO announced its decision. The Zika outbreak itself is not a PHEIC, but the clusters of microcephaly and GBS are. This decision comes after the agency has endured months of criticism over its sluggish, incompetent response to Ebola. While Zika is not Ebola, the current outbreak offers WH...

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