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Americans are largely apathetic about the risks of Zika virus and Congress cannot agree on preparedness funding. Strategies to counter the spread of Zika by the World Health Organisation (WHO) grossly underestimate the disease’s impact. WHO and member countries lack sufficient resources to respond. Consequences of fiscal apathy can be measured in lives lost and long-term disabilities. Zika prevention is a matter of global health security.

The epidemiologic brunt of Zika in South America falls largely on vulnerable women at heightened risk of exposure through mosquitoes and sexual transmission. Resulting transmission to fetuses and infants will have generational impacts in South American and Caribbean countries, as well as the U.S. Global costs to address Zika infections among infected infants will exceed hundreds of billions (U.S. dollars).

WHO and some U.S. leaders, including President Obama, correctly assert that Zika threatens national and global security similar to humanitarian crises, climate change, and war. Words alone, however, are not enough. Global recognition of this public health crisis must stimulate greater investment in preventing negative repercussions.

Publication Citation

16(10) Lancet Infectious Diseases 1099-1100 (2016)