AHF Lauds WHO for Swift Declaration on Zika, Demands More Urgent Global Response than on Ebola

AHF, which lost two HIV/AIDS physicians in Africa to Ebola in 2014,
commended the World Health Organization for swiftly declaring a ‘Public
Health Emergency of International Concern’ on the Zika virus and urged a
much more aggressive global response than on Ebola. WHO’s response on
Ebola was universally deemed to be woefully inadequate.

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AIDS
Healthcare Foundation
(AHF), the largest global AIDS organization
that provides HIV care, treatment and testing services to over 588,000
individuals in 35 countries, today commended the World
Health Organization
(WHO), for swiftly declaring a ‘Public
Health Emergency of International Concern
’ on Zika virus. WHO
officially announced the Declaration on Monday over concerns on an
explosion of Zika virus infections mainly found in the Americas, and in
particular, Zika’s possible association with clusters of microcephaly
and neurologic disorders, in accordance with International Health
Regulations, (IHR 2005).

AHF, which lost two of its HIV/AIDS physicians in Africa to Ebola in
2014 (in Sierra
Leone
and Liberia),
also urged WHO and other global health organizations to mount a much
more aggressive and coordinated response than was mounted on Ebola,
which ravaged Africa starting in 2014. The WHO’s response on the Ebola
outbreak in Africa was universally deemed to be woefully inadequate.

The Zika epidemic is rapidly growing and those most at risk, due to
consequences on newborns, are pregnant women.

Dr. Jorge Saavedra, a Mexican Public Health specialist and
current Global Public Health Ambassador for the AIDS Healthcare
Foundation, declared its satisfaction and appreciation to the Pan
American Health Organization and WHO for the timely declaration of
Public Health Emergency of International Concern, unlike what happened
with the delayed declaration of emergency in the case of the Ebola
epidemic. However, Saavedra believes that the world could be better
prepared to respond more promptly to such situations if both the United
Nations and WHO should carefully read and put into effect the ten (10)
recommendations issued by the Independent
Panel on the Global Response to Ebola
, published in the Lancet on
November 23, 2015.

In the case of Latin America, Dr. Saavedra wonders, “How could these
countries control the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, if they already have
several years trying unsuccessfully to control it for cases of Dengue
and Chikungunya and they have failed? How can they control Zika
infections if the mosquito is exactly the same one? The response to Zika
needs to come from a standpoint of international technical cooperation
and financial aid in order to effectively control the spread of this
potentially devastating virus.”

Finally, Michael Weinstein, President of AHF called upon the
governments of all countries affected by Zika to be open and transparent
in reporting new cases, not to restrict the flow of information due to
political or economic considerations, and to invite and involve civil
society organizations to collaborate in the fight against this epidemic.

Right now 27 countries and territories in the Americas have reported
domestically transmitted Zika cases, including two US territories:
Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. According to the CDC, some imported
Zika infections have been reported in continental USA. In addition to
the US, AHF has operations and free HIV/AIDS treatment clinics in six
countries affected by the Zika: Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guatemala,
Haiti, Mexico and Paraguay.

Latin American countries not affected until now are: Argentina,
Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Belize and Cuba. Very likely Belize and Peru will
be affected very soon.

In addition, on January 25th, the New
York Times
reported on two cases of Zika than may have been sexually
transmitted.

About AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS
healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care
and/or services to over 354,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in
the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. For
more information, visit www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us on Twitter: @AIDSHealthcare

Contacts

AHF
Jorge Saavedra, Global Ambassador for AHF & Former Head
of the National AIDS Center of Mexico
+1.323.420.5493 mobile
jorge.saavedra@aidshealth.org
or
Ged
Kenslea
, Communications Director, AHF
+1.323.308.1833 work
+1.323.791.5526
mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org