The fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (IHR) of the World Health Organization on the Zika virus, microcephaly cases and other Zika virus-associated disorders was held in Geneva on 18 November.
The Committee considered that the Zika virus and associated consequences remain a public health challenge requiring intense action, but no longer represent a "Public Health Emergency of International Concerned", as originally declared in February 2016 in accordance with the IHR. The Committee also recommended that the response to the virus be framed as a regular work program, with the necessary resources to address the long-term nature of the disease and its associated disorders.
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Margareth Chan, accepted the recommendation issued by the Committee and declared the end of the "Public Health Emergency of International Concern". The Director-General also stated that the epidemic should continue to be addressed within regular WHO programs.
The Chairman of the Emergency Committee, David Heyman, and the Executive Director of WHO's Health Emergency Programme, Peter Salama, considered the decision of the Brazilian Government to maintain the Zika epidemic as a national emergency as appropriate. It has also been observed that long-term research in progress in Brazil are important for the production of information on possible cofactors for Zika virus-associated disorders.