The University of the West Indies’ (UWI) regional Zika virus Task Force will coordinate its response to the virus threat. The University has always owned its responsibility to provide the region with expert advice and consultative support; in keeping with this, the Task Force will consult on the development of a strategic, scientific approach to tackling the Zika virus.
The broad distribution of the vector (Aedes aegypti) in the Americas combined with the high mobility of persons in and outside of the region represent a risk for the spread of the virus.
Also keep track of the CARICOM states which appear on the PAHO report of countries with autochthonous transmission by epidemiological week (EW).
Six countries including one CARICOM member state (Brazil, FrenchPolynesia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia and Suriname) have reported increases in the incidence of cases of microcephaly and/or Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in conjunction with an outbreak of Zika.
In addition to microcephaly, other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. Although Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked with these other problems in infants, there is more to learn.
Numerous Caribbean states have announced states of emergency over the Zika virus outbreak.
Acknowledging the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to be a single health and economic space the OECS Ministers’ of Health have agreed on a harmonized approach to Zika. The OECS-wide campaign will include:
A close alliance of national, regional and international public health agencies to monitor the disease and attempt to anticipate trends.
Activity by national authorities, communities and work places aimed at the rapid elimination of the mosquito population.
Equipping public health services to manage cases which may occur.
A wide-spread public awareness campaign to inform and educate on preventatives measures and the status of the threat.
Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles on February 11, 2016 announced the formation of a regional Zika virus Task Force intended to leverage the University’s expertise and coordinate efforts with the regional governments and other bodies.
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Caribbean and Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are key advisors on the region’s collaborative efforts.