Emergency Committee lifts Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Zika but requires a long-term response

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GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) on Zika and microcephaly convened by the Director-General under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) regarding microcephaly, other neurological disorders and Zika virus, was held by teleconference on 18 November.

The Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declared by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2016 has led the world to an urgent and coordinated response, providing the understanding that Zika virus infection and associated consequences represent a highly significant long-term problem that must be managed by WHO, States Parties and other partners in a way that other infectious disease threats are managed.

At the aforementioned meeting, the EC decided that a robust longer-term technical mechanism was now required to manage the global response, and based on this advice, the Director-General declared the end of the PHEIC.

The Committee was briefed on the implementation of the Temporary Recommendations issued by the Director-General on advice from the four previous EC meetings.

The Committee was updated on the latest developments on Zika virus geographic spread, natural history, epidemiology, microcephaly and other neonatal complications associated with Zika virus, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and current knowledge on sexual transmission of Zika virus.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), agrees with the EC findings that the Zika virus and associated consequences remain a significant enduring public health challenge that continues to require intense action, and therefore, reiterates to residents and businesses to continue to take measures to eliminate mosquito breeding places.

CPS will continue with its National Mosquito Elimination Community Program Zika Virus disease (ZikV) “Beat ZikV,” in the near future.

Actively destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns/vase or in pet dishes for more than two days.  Throw out the water and turn them over every time it collects water.

Screen off cistern outlets, cover and screen septic tanks properly.

An increase in the mosquito population puts residents and visitors at risk. For information about dengue fever, zika and chikungunya prevention measures, you can call CPS 542-2078 or 542-3003 to report mosquito breeding sites or send us an email at surveillance@sintmaartengov.org