Nov 18, 2016

Zika No Longer Global 'Health Emergency,' WHO Declares

Argentina
by
Michaeleen Doucleff
,
NPR
A mother holds her baby, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil. Photo: Mario Tama, Getty Images
A mother holds her baby, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil. Photo: Mario Tama, Getty Images

The World Health Organization announced Friday that it no longer considers the Zika epidemic a public health emergency of international concern.

But Zika's threat to pregnant women and babies is not going away anytime soon, the agency says. Instead, the virus is now a chronic problem, says the WHO's Dr. Pete Salama.

"It is really important that we communicate this very clearly: We are not downgrading the importance of Zika," Salama says. "In fact, by placing this as a longer term program of work, we're sending the message that Zika is here to stay. And WHO's response is here to stay, in a robust manner."

One thing is clear: Zika is still spreading. And microcephaly cases are still growing. Argentina reported its first potential case this week. And Florida continues to find people who caught Zika inside the state.