The World Health Organisation has declared the on-going Zika virus epidemic, a global health emergency.
The WHO director-general, Margaret Chan, who issued the health alert after a meeting with the organisations disease control committees in Geneva on Monday, said it is high time the world began a united response to fight the virus.
Chan said that experts are worried at the alarming rate of infection and its deadly consequences.
By this action from the global body, the WHO alert puts Zika in the same category of international concern as Ebola.
Chan said, “I am now declaring that the recent cluster of Zika virus- related microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014 constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
She said countries priorities were to protect pregnant women and their babies from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.
The WHO warned that Zika is likely to spread explosively across nearly all of the Americas with more than 20 countries, including Brazil reporting new cases daily.
Chan added, “Currently, there is no vaccine or medication to stop Zika.The only way to avoid catching it is to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the infection.”
There have been around 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly – babies born with small brains – in Brazil alone since October.