Countries in the Region agree to build on existing systems for rapid response to Zika virus

WHO

 Countries in the WHO European Region need to build on existing systems for vector control, disease surveillance, laboratory testing and emergency risk communications in order to prevent or quickly contain any outbreak of Zika virus in the Region. 

This was the main conclusion reached at a meeting of 18 countries of the Region experiencing a high or moderate likelihood of Zika virus transmission. Experts from these countries gathered in Lisbon, Portugal, on 22–24 June 2016 to participate in the WHO Regional Technical Consultation on Zika virus. 

The 80 participants, with expertise in epidemiology, entomology, laboratory diagnosis and risk communications, found the meeting timely and useful in preparing for a possible Zika virus outbreak. They discussed experiences of responding to Zika virus in the Americas, and of addressing previous vector-borne disease outbreaks within the Region.

Participants recommended that all 4 pillars of Zika virus response – vector control, disease surveillance, laboratory testing and emergency risk communications – be better integrated. Interventions should focus on: 

  • preparing now and acting early; 
  • selecting the most effective interventions in different scenarios of Zika virus transmission and related complications;
  • addressing vector-borne diseases as a whole; and
  • coordinating centrally and acting locally. 

Countries called on WHO/Europe to support them with guidance, standards, templates and trainings for all pillars of Zika virus preparedness and response. They recommended that WHO/Europe facilitate the sharing of information, expertise and best practices to provide support in case of a Zika virus outbreak.