This Mother's Day, a large number of expectant mothers globally are wondering the same thing: will my baby be affected by Zika? Their concern is highly valid, with the CDC's recent conclusion that Zika causes microcephaly and other birth defects.
Ashish Jha, Faculty Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, published an op-ed in USATODAY with a call to action to strengthen the global community's ability to prevent and respond to Zika and other global disease outbreaks. Jha says that, "...the bottom line is this: Zika is not a virus the U.S. can fight alone. Mosquitoes and viruses don’t respect national borders. In our interconnected world, a disease outbreak anywhere is potentially a disease outbreak everywhere."
Jha, co-chair for the Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola convened by Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, believes we can--and that we must--learn lessons from past outbreaks, like Ebola. "We need to learn the lessons from previous outbreaks..." Jha says. "The Ebola epidemic exposed a fragile, ineffective global system for outbreak prevention and response. We need to vastly improve the ways in which nations work together and the capacity for global organizations to lead, prevent and respond."
Jha stresses the urgency of the situation and believes that "Next Mother’s Day can be different, free from the shadow cast by Zika, but only if we act. If we don’t, we are sentencing too many mothers and children to spend their lives paying for our failure."