In November, the World Health Organization ended the emergency status they had declared in response to the Zika epidemic almost a year ago. Reflecting on the response, more than a dozen public health experts agreed that we did not do so well in protecting everyone during this emergency. “Latin America was pretty much left to its own devices,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. “I didn’t see the kind of interactive response like the one that brought Ebola under control.”
An article in The New York Times discusses some of the notable successes of the response, but overall it states that the positives were counterbalanced by numerous negatives – the greatest failure being that tens of millions of women living in epidemic areas, places that tourists were kept away from, were left unprotected. We are now seeing a wave of brain-damaged babies being born, causing suffering for families and medical costs that will eventually range into hundreds of millions of dollars. According to experts, scientific collaboration also lost momentum and important studies did not materialize — studies that may have helped us understand more about the epidemic moving forward. Now, aside from the politics and missed opportunities, one big question remains: Will Zika return?