News & commentary about the global health workforce
Vital Home

Zika: The Cost of Doing Nothing

The Zika epidemic has spread like wildfire through Latin America. Yet the global and national responses have remained slow. The sluggish response to the fast-spreading Zika virus—which is associated with severe microcephaly and other brain malformations in the infants of infected mothers, and with paralysis in adults—has resulted in copious hand-wringing throughout the global health community.

We expected faster action, especially in more advanced countries. But throughout the Americas, we have been slow to invest in the resources and research necessary to address the virus quickly.

$5 billion is the current Zika mortgage. If we act quickly, the mortgage can be kept at $5 billion.

As a result, mosquito-transmitted Zika is now in 33 countries and territories in the Americas, and 50 countries have been affected worldwide. Even the US has seen domestically acquired cases in Puerto Rica and the US Virgin Islands. Within a year, a quarter of Puerto Rico’s population could be infected with the Zika virus, according to predictions from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Eventually, the agency says, that number could rise to 80% or more. 

Read the full article beginning on page 21 in the Spring 2016 issue of Global Health & Diplomacy.

Photograph courtesy of Trevor Snapp for IntraHealth International.