Global health challenges

Zika Virus

Credit: Reuters 2016

Our response to the Zika outbreak

WHO declared Zika virus disease a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 1 February 2016 after a substantial spike in cases of microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré syndromes in adults were observed.

In the wake of Ebola, we see that vector-borne diseases respect no borders. Effective tackling of Zika virus disease requires surveillance, strong health systems, and a swift response. Our members work closely with WHO and other stakeholders:

  • to accelerate the development of Zika virus disease vaccines/treatments,
  • to meet the urgent health needs in affected regions in Latin America.

Our members are looking into Zika virus diseases vaccine candidates based on work previously carried out against other flaviviruses, including West Nile and dengue fever, including:

  • one company that has started working on a vaccine research and development project targeting the prevention of Zika virus infection;
  • one company has confirmed deploying their teams on-site to investigate the set-up of such R&D project; and has stated the need for a consortium of organizations to take on Zika;
  • other member companies are looking at how their established R&D and industrial infrastructure can be rapidly leveraged to help understand the spread of Zika and contribute to speeding up the identification of a vaccine candidate for further clinical development.Zika-infographic-900px

IFPMA holds that Zika, along with other recent public health emergencies such as Ebola, shows it is essential that the world is better prepared and takes a proactive approach to identify and respond to outbreaks. Resilient health systems are critical to preventing future crises, which otherwise result in devastating consequences for human health, economies, and global security. Investing in human resources and general infrastructure and increasing per-capita spending on health, will lay the foundation for control of similar epidemics.


countries reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in connection with Zika


suspected cases of microcephaly (babies with brain defect) in Brazil alone


Zika virus first discovered in macaques near Antebbe in Uganda.

Related Resources