UN agencies coordinate efforts on Zika

UNUNITED NATIONS, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) — The United Nations said here Wednesday that more than 20 of its agencies are coordinating efforts in response to the outbreak of Zika virus in the Americas and the challenges posed by the neurological disorders associated with the Zika virus.

Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, told reporters here that following the declaration by Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, that microcephaly and other neurological disorders associated with the Zika virus constitutes a public health emergency of international concern

On Tuesday, the deputy UN secretary-general, Jan Eliasson, convened a high-level UN system meeting to address the challenges.

“More than 20 different UN agencies and departments were represented,” Haq said at a daily news briefing here.

“Participants discussed how the UN system, under the leadership of WHO, will help affected countries to address the challenges posed by the neurological disorders associated with the Zika virus.”

“They emphasized the need for robust community mobilization, accelerated research and clear and coherent messaging,” Haq said.

Earlier Wednesday, WHO voiced concern over a report that the Zika virus had been sexually transmitted in the United States and called for further investigation into the mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects.

“The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the United States was reported in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday by local health officials, who said it likely was contracted through sex and not a mosquito bite,” Haq said.

WHO added that further investigation is needed to understand the conditions and how often or likely sexual transmission is, Haq said.