Zika disease, a condition caused by a mosquito. And now the world’s attention has been drawn straight into it. Thousands of people need curative solutions. Money must be spent to treat sick people.
By Simon Mone
The world not long ago celebrated an end of a serious health emergency in West Africa and went ahead to declare affected countries free of Ebola. But as people in those countries settle down into Ebola-free lives, they now realise as much as the world does that they now have to contend with another disease problem.
Zika disease, a condition caused by a mosquito. And now the world’s attention has been drawn straight into it. Thousands of people need curative solutions. Money must be spent to treat sick people. In early days, malaria was a big thing in our African world. It still remains a problem as hundreds continue to fall sick while many die.
And some continents never knew the term malaria. They only learned it upon travelling to Africa. Then they took anti-malaria drugs to not catch it. And for solutions, all we had to do is implement easy routine steps to deal with malaria disease vector. But complacency kept us struck in it.
We let mosquitoes breed and multiply in big numbers. So, with malaria still around to deal with, we are witnessing the emergence of a new, simple but serious health condition. It appeared. With a good-sounding name, Zika disease traces its roots in Uganda. Ziika forest is widely believed to be the origin of the disease, from where in 1947, the first case was reported. Zika has spread out to South America and is causing problems.
There is some evidence to show that pregnant women are more likely to be affected by this problem. Newly borne babies could be produced with abnormalities. World Health Organisation (WHO) has now declared Zika disease an international health emergency.
Recall that similar pronouncements have been made before. A devastating Ebola fever that broke out in West Africa, and went on to claim beyond 11,000 lives, caused an international health emergency. Polio did the same in 2013 and swine flu pandemic in 2009. But Zika has come today as a recent emergency. It is said to be spreading at a speed that requires the world to move with urgency to combat it. Over twenty countries have reported confirmed Zika patients.
The Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, are all now looking for answers. Zika is spread by the same mosquito that transmits dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya – aedes aegypti. And WHO highlights same, old preventive measures. That people must wear long sleeves and trousers.
Use insect repellents and sleep under mosquito nets. Countries must eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes. They have to clear bushes and drain stagnant waters. Because there is neither a vaccine against Zika virus nor treatment, fighting the disease can only shift directly to traditional methods of control.
We have been implementing these measures from a long time ago. These solutions, we must cling on to for now. And expectant mothers, who intend to travel, ought to postpone visits to Zika-affected countries. As we apply cheap solutions, we still have a big challenge, to look for its treatment.
The more reason we should remain on top of the situation. So, this current Zika emergency hopefully has ignited a fire to force the world to come out and throw everything at it. As more efficient solutions are sought, war on ridding mosquito hideouts must continue. It is basic health science, not an invention. It is cheap and easy to implement. We have done it before. So let basic health science prevail. It comes handy to get us out of jail.
The writer is a civil engineer, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org