'Emergency meeting' held on Zika as UAE takes preventative action

DUBAI // A regional emergency meeting was called by the World Health Organisation to construct a plan of action against Zika while the Ministry of Health of UAE has said it is taking steps to prevent Zika. Ministry of Health officials have made disinfecting aeroplanes entering the country mandatory. The special protocol has been sent […]

DUBAI // A regional emergency meeting was called by the World Health Organisation to construct a plan of action against Zika while the Ministry of Health of UAE has said it is taking steps to prevent Zika.

Ministry of Health officials have made disinfecting aeroplanes entering the country mandatory. The special protocol has been sent to airlines as well as ports.

The ministry along with concerned bodies are also doing surveillance of the environment to ensure the aedes mosquito which causes the Zika virus, does not enter UAE.

Dr Fatma Al Attar, consultant and director of International Health Regulations office at the Ministry of Health said that though the kits used to test Zika are not available yet in UAE, the ministry of health is trying to provide it as soon as possible in UAE.

“There is only one company that has the tests and their no commercial kits. Till we get the tests, we can send the samples to laboratories outside the country through the World Health Organisation,” said Dr Al Attar.

“We had a meeting with all concerned bodies such municipalities, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and Minister of climate change and environment and we are doing surveillance to ensure our country is free of the aedes mosquito. We don’t have the mosquito till now and we are following a special methodoly to confirm the country is free of it,” said Dr Al Attar. The surveillance will take two/three weeks.

All the health authorities will have information about precautionary measures on their websites in a week, she confirmed.

Earlier this week, the (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean invited representatives from ministries of health in the region to two rounds of emergency meetings to share information on Zika virus infection a and discuss public health measures to prepare for, and respond to, a possible spread in the region. The region is Zika free at present. However, the region remains at risk as the Aedes mosquito that transmits the virus to humans is present in at least eight countries — Djibouti, Egypt, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

A set of recommendations were decided for urgent implementation to keep the region free from the threat of Zika virus infection. These included enhancing disease surveillance to detect cases of Zika virus infection, establish laboratory facilities for diagnosis and testing capacities for Zika virus infection, establish links with external reference laboratories for sample processing, strengthen surveillance, especially in hot spot areas, establish appropriate measures at points of entry and disinfecting conveyances arriving from a country with active Zika virus transmission.

WHO will implement this plan over the next six months in collaboration with ministries of health and other health partners.

arizvi2@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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