Physician Leaders Call For More Advice on Zika Virus

(01.05.2016) A plea for information on the Zika virus infection to be disseminated widely has come from the World Medical Association.

Physician leaders at the WMA's Council meeting in Buenos Aires called for widespread advice to protect women and men who live in or must travel to Zika-affected areas and who are considering becoming parents. Advice should also be made available for pregnant women who may have been directly exposed to the Zika virus or whose partners live in or have travelled to Zika-affected areas.

Delegates from 35 national medical associations said it was important that physicians are kept up to date with the latest information on the levels of developmental and other abnormalities associated with the Zika virus.

A resolution agreed by the meeting called for the World Health Organisation to work with disease control organisations to better understand the natural history and current epidemiology of the Zika virus and to gather data on the efficacy of different mosquito control methodologies. Work on diagnostic tests, antivirals, and vaccines should continue in order to produce a product that is safe for use in pregnant women. 

WMA President Sir Michael Marmot said: ‘We would like to see public funding made available for this research and when products are developed states should ensure they are affordable and available to those most at risk.

‘We are also calling for states that have witnessed the delivery of babies with microcephaly to ensure that these infants are properly followed up and that families are provided with support. These infants will need careful assessment, including for hearing loss, ocular abnormalities, and for developmental delay. And they may need lifelong support from health and social services.'

See the Council Resolution on Zika Virus Infection