Health Ministry declares end of national Zika emergency
On Thursday 11 May, the Health Ministry announced the end of the National Public Health Emergency caused by the Zika virus and its association with microcephaly and other neurological conditions.
The number of reported cases dropped 95% in the first few months of this year when compared with the same period in 2016. Therefore, Brazil no longer meets the criteria of a health emergency.
The procedures to assess National Public Health Emergency risks are described in the WHO International Health Regulations, and decisions to lift such status are based on four aspects: impact of an event on public health; if the event is unusual or unexpected; if there is any risk of international spread; and if there is a significant risk of international travel or trade restrictions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) was notified of the Brazilian decision through a new risk assessment report published eighteen months after the emergency status was declared. During this time, measures aimed at fighting Aedes aegypti were strengthened thanks to collaboration actions involving the three management spheres of the Unified Health System (SUS).
The federal government has also prioritised actions against the Aedes aegypti mosquito; research and development of tests to identify infections caused by the mosquito; and assistance to microcephalic infants and their mothers.
Despite the end of the emergency status, Brazil will maintain its actions aimed at fighting the mosquito and providing assistance to infants and mothers. "Lifting the emergency status does not mean ending assistance or surveillance. The Health Ministry and other organisations operating in this area will maintain their policies regarding Zika, dengue and chikungunya, including at state and municipal level", announced the Health Ministry's Secretary for Health Surveillance, Adeílson Cavalcante.
Zika cases drop 95% in first few months of the year
The number of suspected cases of dengue, Zika and chikungunya notified in the first few months of 2017 saw an average drop of 85% as compared with the same period last year. Zika virus infections dropped from 170,535 cases in 2016 to 7,911 cases this year. As a result, incidence dropped from 82.8 cases per 100,000 people in 2016 to 3.8 cases per 100,000 people this year.
With regard to pregnant women, 1,079 probable cases were registered. Out of these, 293 were confirmed according to clinical-epidemiological or laboratory criteria. Still, no deaths by Zika have been recorded this year. Last year, eight people died as a result of Zika infections.
Dengue infections dropped by 90.3%. By 15 April, 113,381 probable cases of dengue were notified in the country, as compared with 1,180,472 in 2016. The number of deaths resulting from the disease was also smaller than last year, dropping from 507 to only 17 in 2017 – a 96.6% reduction.
The highest incidence of dengue was observed in the Central-west and North regions, where, respectively, 160 and 89.4 cases were reported per every 100,000 people.
With regard to chikungunya, there were 43,010 reports, which means an incidence rate of 20.9 cases per 100,000 people. Last year, 135,030 cases were reported. As with dengue, the number of deaths resulting from chikungunya infections also dropped: from 196 to only 9.
The Northeast region presented the highest incidence rates, with 44.2 cases per 100,000 people. – followed by the North region, with 35.9 cases per 100,000 people.