Marshalls declares state of health emergency over zika

7:29 am on 3 March 2016
zika mosquito

Photo: 123RF

The President of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine has declared a state of health emergency to push the country's response to the Zika virus into high gear.

Dr Heine says although only one case of Zika has been confirmed in the Marshalls, Zika cases reported in the Pacific region are rapidly increasing and the Marshall Islands is highly vulnerable.

The declaration activates the Ministry of Health's Epidemiology Network as the focal point for action to provide direction, updates and advice to the government's National Disaster Committee.

Noting that pregnant mothers who are infected are at high risk of developing congenital malformations to their unborn child, the President yesterday issued the proclamation of a health emergency for an initial 31 days.

The confirmed Zika case in Majuro is a 25 year-old in the early stage of pregnancy.

Laboratory testing of blood from five other suspected cases turned out negative, according to the Ministry of Health on Wednesday.

The Ministry said because the Zika virus can also be transmitted by blood contact, the main hospital has banned blood transfusions to pregnant women.

The Disaster Committee will mobilize 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 funding to support action to prevent the spread of the virus.