Wed | Aug 23, 2017

WHO head blames 1970's policy failure for Zika spread

Published:Monday | May 23, 2016 | 5:55 PM
China's Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization addresses her statement, during the 69th World Health Assembly at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland today.

World Health Organization (WHO) leader Margaret Chan has declared that the spread of Zika is the price being paid for a massive policy failure on mosquito control.

Speaking at the agency's annual World Health Assembly, Dr Chan said experts had dropped the ball in the 1970s with regards to getting a handle on disease-carrying insects.

More than 60 countries and territories now have continuing Zika transmission.

Most recently, the infection reached Africa and experts predict that it could reach Europe in the summer.

The Zika virus is thought to cause serious birth defects during pregnancy and has been declared a global public health emergency.

According to Dr Chan, outbreaks that become emergencies always reveal specific weaknesses in affected countries and illuminate the fault lines in collective preparedness.