STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT
MINISTER OF HEALTH
DR. THE HON. CHRISTOPHER TUFTON
TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 2016
Mr. Speaker, allow me to update this Honourable House on the present Zika virus situation, the expected effects on the population and some of the activities being undertaken by the Ministry of Health and its partners as part of the response.
Mr. Speaker, the latest World Health Organization (WHO) situation report indicates that as of June 1, 2016, 60 countries and territories have reported Zika transmission; Forty six (46) countries are experiencing a first outbreak of Zika virus since 2015, with no previous evidence of circulation, and with ongoing transmission by mosquitos. As of June 1, 2016, microcephaly and
other central nervous system malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection or suggestive of congenital infection have been reported by eleven countries or territories.
Thirteen countries and territories worldwide have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases. Based on research to date, there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and GBS. Given the foregoing, the WHO has advised that vigilance in countries
remain high for Zika.
Mr. Speaker, you may recall that on February 1, 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This designation is reserved for public health crises which will have global reach. Mr. Speaker, to demonstrate the significance of this, there has been only four other such designations in recent times: Influenza
A(H1N1) in 2009, the resurgence of polio in 2014 after its near global eradication, Ebola in 2014 and now Zika in 2016 because of the lasting and impactful effects it can have especially on newborns.