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Imperative for U.S. leadership in global response to Zika

The Hill

Friday, March 11, 2016

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As we await warmer temperatures and the arrival of the Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying the Zika virus to our shores, the U.S. government is accelerating its domestic preparedness and response activities. These critical activities include improving surveillance and laboratory capacity, educating health care workers and the general public, and accelerating vaccine research.

An equally important role for the U.S. is to support the response of other countries in the Americas, both directly and indirectly, through multinational institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO). This is essential when dealing with infectious disease epidemics originating abroad because the best way to protect the American people is always to stop an outbreak at its source. While in this case the Zika virus disease cannot be contained, a forward leaning U.S. global engagement strategy is important from both a humanitarian and national security perspective.

Anand Parekh, M.D., MPH is senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former deputy assistant secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. Ashish Jha, M.D., MPH is the K.T. Li professor of International Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.