Opinion Pieces Discuss Various Aspects Of Zika Response

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Zika virus in the dock
Editorial Board

“…At the moment, the causal link between Zika virus and microcephaly is speculative. The position taken by WHO on the reported microcephaly cases will help to guarantee accurate investigations based on standardized parameters, to promote case-control studies, and to accelerate development of diagnostic tests, potential vaccines, and therapies for Zika virus infection. The precautionary approach taken by WHO and national governments is sensible. Care of pregnant women who might be at risk is essential, as is providing adequate access to birth control. Nevertheless, at this stage caution should be exerted by the media in linking Zika virus to the microcephaly cases to avoid unjustified fears, and investigations on alternative causes of microcephaly should continue in parallel with studies on Zika virus” (March 2016).

Baltimore Sun: The low-tech approach to Zika
David Bishai and Clive Shiff, both professors at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“…Getting more Maryland public health departments accredited would ensure that they earn the public’s trust and get us ready to take on whatever our coming health challenges may be. … Accreditation builds strength at collecting health data and communicating it to the public in a way that engages everyone and builds the trust ready to take decisive action on a community’s leading health threats. … Accreditation builds the excellence that builds the trust that makes it politically possible for public health to lead the efforts that make us healthy. … Sure, a vaccine [for Zika virus] would be nice. But history shows that controlling epidemics is possible though low-tech means when we work together and trust each other…” (2/22).

The Hill: Zika virus: Why emergency funding is necessary, and why it shouldn’t be
Jeff Schlegelmilch, deputy director, and Irwin Redlener, director, both at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute

“…Disease investigation, developing trainings and risk communication strategies, as well as some degree of controlling mosquito populations should already be part of the public health preparedness toolkit and staffed by an adequate number of professionals. These capabilities are required in nearly every response and should already be funded. But they are not, and so we need all of the categorical funding we can get, including [the president’s proposed $1.9 billion] emergency appropriation for the Zika outbreak. Unfortunately, this recurring cycle of emergency funding for each new event is necessary because we continue to fail to learn the lessons of prior events, and to make real investments that will reduce the cost of emergency funding and the frequency in which we need it. Responding to disasters is exciting and politically attractive, preventing them is not. As a consequence it costs us more to repeat the same mistakes, and more lives are at risk because it is easier [to] fund and provide leadership for emergency response than emergency preparedness” (2/23).

Huffington Post: Rousseff Launches a National Mobilization Against Zika
Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

“…It is uncertain … whether a high profile offensive to contain Zika virus will help the president [of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff,] regain the political credibility she needs to govern and start moving the country away from its unhealthy current path. … The complexity of the epidemic and the government’s poor crisis management record suggest the challenge posed by Zika and microcephaly is one more uphill battle for the president. … Providing the resources public health officials and researchers need to conduct their work is key to ensure the continuity of their efforts to understand and contain the spread of the virus … In the toxic political environment prevailing in Brazil, however, it would be naïve to underestimate the negative implications of attempts by the government or the opposition to use the Zika virus crisis to score political points…” (2/22).

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