Zika Virus: EU must put early prevention measures in place

Date

18 Feb 2016

Sections

Health & Consumers

"Europe needs to be very vigilant. We have to fight the disease before it gets out of control. This means rapidly boosting research and laboratory capacity to fight the virus", warned Annie Schreijer-Pierik MEP, ahead of the debate of the Environment Committee and World Health Organisation (WHO) experts at 17.30 today in the European Parliament. The WHO declared the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern on 1 February and the EU activated its early warning and response system for medical emergencies.

Annie Schreijer-Pierik, who is co-drafting a Resolution on Zika, called for strong precautions against the virus: "Europe should stand ready to help pregnant women worldwide. It is very important to control the mosquito that seems to be at the root of the Zika virus. Fight the pools where the mosquitoes are laying their eggs, disinfect the cargo and cargo carriers from the infected countries, as well as passenger compartments and staff cabins of aeroplanes and ships."

The Dutch MEP fears that the virus could severely threaten the health and lives of thousands of pregnant women and their babies on our continent if appropriate measures are not urgently put in place. "It only takes one infected mosquito well hidden in a car tyre to come into Europe to start spreading the Zika virus among European women as well. It is our moral duty to do what we can to protect our citizens, first and foremost our pregnant women and babies. Microcephaly and other neurological disorders can be avoided through effective prevention and control of the Zika virus", Schreijer-Pierik warned.

The Environment Committee will table an Oral Question calling for urgent measures in order to prevent a Zika outbreak in Europe. The EPP Group calls on the European Commission to come up with an action plan to prevent the spread of the virus to Europe and to assist the countries fighting this epidemic, and on the Commission and Member States to enhance vigilance towards the early detection of imported cases of the Zika virus in the EU.