Thursday, February 4, 2016

After Ebola, Now Zika

The world can heave a big sigh of relief now that the two-year Ebola epidemic is “officially” over because the three worst-hit countries had been given the all-clear by the World Health Organization: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia were declared Ebola-free on November 07, 2015; December 29, 2015; and January 14, 2016 respectively.
The tropical virus not only killed more than 11,300 and triggered a global health alert, but it wrecked the economies and health systems of the three above-mentioned countries. At its peak, it devastated the West African countries, with bodies piling up in the streets and overwhelmed hospitals recording hundreds of new cases a week.
Rick Brennan, WHO’s chief of emergency risk management, however, cautioned that "the job is still not done" – the disease can still re-emerge because of persistence of the virus in a proportion of survivors. Part of the challenge in combating outbreaks stems from the fact that the Ebola virus rapidly evolves.
In fact, Libera was first declared free of the disease last May, but new cases emerged two times – forcing officials there to restart the clock. And Sierra Leone had two cases in January 2016, after the World Health Organisation declared an end to the Ebola epidemic – reinforcing WHO’s reminder that risks remain.
The ravages of disease are not going to be over any time soon. Already, the World Health Organization declared on February 01, 2016 that the Zika virus has reached the status of a global emergency.
By deciding to declare that the mosquito-borne virus is a "public health emergency of international concern," it allows more money, resources and scientific research to be dedicated to addressing the growing disease.
The current viral outbreak was first reported in May 2015 in Brazil when the first confirmed cases were disclosed. But the cases quickly multiplied and now government officials believe that more than 1 million people have been infected in that country. WHO officials said that one reason for the rapid spread is that both people and mosquitoes have no immunity to the virus that is new to the region.
Zika has now affected 25 countries but for now, the WHO “found no public health justification for restrictions on travel or trade to restrict the spread of the Zika virus.”
Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO said the connection between the Zika virus and other neurological disorders is “strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven” – referring to both the microcephaly birth defects and the rare cases of paralysis known as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
On Tuesday, Jamie Vardy's stunning double strike gave EPL leaders Leicester City a 2-0 win over Liverpool to maintain their title charge. The Foxes fully deserved their victory and that speaks a lot about the Reds’ performance.
On the same day too, I was in Menara Allianz Sentral (Nu Tower 1) in KL’s Jalan Tun Sambanthan – where I was the General Evaluator as well as a speaker. I delivered an Advanced speech from the Storytelling manual titled “A Father’s Lies”.


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