Zika ‘emergency’ declared

President Dr. Hilda Heine
President Dr. Hilda Heine

A “state of health emergency” was declared this week by President Hilda Heine to push the RMI’s response to the Zika virus into high gear.

Noting that “pregnant mothers who are infected are at high risk of developing congenital malformations to their unborn child,” the President issued the proclamation of a health emergency for an initial 31 days. The declaration activates the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology Network (EPINET) as the “focal point” for action to provide direction, updates and advice to the National Disaster Committee.

The Disaster Committee “will mobilize the government resources — financial and human — needed to support the national Zika virus response plan to include government sectors, agencies and civil society for effective coordination on quarantine and sanitation efforts while the Ministry of Health focuses more on surveillance, patient management and public education/awareness,” the declaration said. The emergency declaration also identifies various sources of funds to support action to prevent the spread of Zika virus.

The President said although only one case has been confirmed in RMI, “Zika cases reported in the Pacific region are rapidly increasing and the RMI is highly vulnerable.”