Despite strong warnings to cancel the Olympic games from imminent Zika virus experts, the World Health Organization has declared the games will resume as scheduled. On Friday, 150 world health leaders presented an open letter to the W.H.O. urging the upcoming games be delayed or moved in the interest of world public safety.
The letter contained new instances of evidence that the Zika virus causes major birth defects in infants. In adults, Zika can lead to crippling neurological problems, including a rare form of paralysis.
Recently, public health advisors warned against having hundreds of thousands of people congregate in the Zika epicenter of Brazil for the Summer Olympiad. These advisors cautioned that doing so would likely cause an expedited global epidemic of the Zika virus.
Even in spite of contrary top medical advice, the World Health Organization resolutely issued this comment concerning Olympic proceedings. Per The New York Times:
“Based on the current assessment of the Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or canceling the Games,” it said. The agency “will continue to monitor the situation and update our advice as necessary.”
In response to the World Health Organization’s refusal to heed overt academic advice, petition signee Professor Edwin Van Teijlingen, of Bournemouth University stated to Tribu Magazine: “While Zika’s risk to any single individual is low, the risk to a population is undeniably high. Just because a fire has begun doesn’t mean you need to pour gasoline on it.”
Professor Teijlingen’s logic concerning the widespread dangers of Zika virus are both academic and common sense based. As such, the United Nations Health Agency has issued a direct warning for pregnant women to avoid the Rio Olympics. The agency also cautioned tourists to avoid over populated areas of the city.
While the W.H.O. has seemingly reneged on their February statement deeming Zika spread in the America’s to be a “global concern,” the organization’s Saturday press release made no mention of either earlier Zika related warnings, nor the letter proffered by the world health experts.
In response, the health experts cited an “overly close” relationship between the W.H.O. and International Olympic Committee has muddled the W.H.O.’s ability to make unbiased decisions pertaining to Olympic matters.
The International Olympic committee patently denied this notion, saying ‘it did not currently have a memorandum of understanding with the health agency.’
While the upcoming Rio Olympics have caused concern among top athletes and leading health officials, the W.H.O. is staunch in it’s belief that proper safety practices will thwart a worldwide outbreak of Zika Virus:
“I believe that if every athlete, or every member of the Australian team including athletes and officials follows the guidelines we’ve provided to them, we will have minimal issues to do with Zika in Rio”, Hughes said.”
The Rio Olympic games are scheduled to host 204 nation’s from August 5 through August 21.
The World Health Organization stated that Zika virus will not be as big a concern in the latter Summer months. The world at large has mixed reactions.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]