WHO reports first Three Zika Virus Cases from India

While Zika virus has been most prevalent in African nations, South America including Brazil and Mexico in Latin America have also reported a few cases of Zika virus in the recent past. Now, India has joined other Asia Pacific countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, reporting its first three cases of Zika virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Two Pregnant Women Among first Zika Cases from India

All the first three Zika Virus cases from India are from the state of Gujarat, and includes two pregnant women. However, the Health Ministry of India has urged the residents not to panic as the contamination has been contained, and bother women delivered healthy babies. The WHO noted these first three Zika cases in India on May 15, detecting it via routine blood surveillance in a hospital in Ahmedabad, the capital city of Gujarat. While the first two cases were reported in February and November 2016, third case came into notice in January this year.

Interestingly, these three patients did not travel abroad, which means the Zika infection was acquired domestically from mosquitoes known as daytime-active Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

Detection of Zika Virus a Tough Task

Owing to the lack of infrastructure in poorer parts of Asia Pacific, which leads to still water that are breading environment for the Zika virus and other mosquitoes, nearly 2.6 billion people are at risk, while foreign travel is another way of gaining infection. Sadly, several Zika cases go unnoticed as the patients do not set sick and the symptoms are very mild even for those who do.

Ebola Cases Resurfacing in Africa, notes WHO

Two patients were confirmed with Ebola virus over the weekend by the World Health Organization (WHO), and both hailed from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These two cases do not include three deaths and 17 other hemorrhagic fever cases reported recently in the country. Overall, the WHO is investigating 125 people who may have been subjected to Ebola-Zaire outbreak, as per the news report from Reuters.

Ebola virus remains predominant in Africa, with this being the seventh outbreak in DRC alone. The first instance was in 1976 while the most recent was in 2014, which claimed 49 causalities. The period of 2013 to 2016 had Ebola at its zenith in West Africa.

Less than a Month from the First Symptoms to Death

Out of the three cases for which the WHO has provided details on, one of the patient showed symptoms on April 22 and died inside a fortnight after arrival at a Likati health zone in Bas Uele province, which about two to three hour drive from DRC’s largest city. The man, first reported to be aged 45 and then updated for the age 39, experienced blood in his urine, nose-bleeding, bloody vomiting, and diarrhea. A companion of this patient is currently symptomatic, while the person who drove the two to the facility is now dead.

Lack of Clarity on the Use of Emergency Vaccine

Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV has shown signs of protection against Ebola-Zaire and was approved for emergency use. Although nearly 300,000 doses of the vaccine are now available, it remains unclear whether the medication was used over these subjects. WHO Africa states that the complete extent of Ebola virus outbreak in 2017 is not yet known, and does not recommend any restriction on travelers from entering DRC.

Investments Need a Leap to Meet Water and Sanitation Targets, says WHO

Countries need to speed up investments for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with the objective to attain water and sanitation targets, according to a new report by World Health Organization (WHO). The report is published on behalf of United Nations Water to address the concern of at least two billion people worldwide that do not have access to safe drinking water. The water that this population is consuming is contaminated with feces causing almost 500,000 deaths a year and is a major factor for several tropical diseases such as cholera, intestinal worms, dysentery, typhoid and polio, and schistosomiasis and trachoma.

The report emphasizes that nations will not be able to contribute to attain global targets of providing safe drinking water and sanitation unless efforts are made to use financial resources more efficiently and efforts are made to identify alternate sources of funding.

Investment Planning in Developing Countries Deficient to attain SDG

As per the 2017 Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water report of UN-Water, nations have spurred up budgets by as much as 4.9% each year for the last three years for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Despite this, 80% of countries report that finances allocated for WASH are insufficient to achieve national targets for WASH services.

At present, in several developing countries, national targets are related to providing basic infrastructure, which may not necessarily include uninterrupted safe and reliable services. This is because planned investments are not completely aimed at achieving SDG targets for universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2030.

As per estimates of the World Bank, investments in infrastructure need to be raised to US$ 114 billion each year in order to achieve SDG global targets.