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It would be a relief to put the Zika virus behind us, but last year international collaboration concerning Zika research, and the sharing of Zika related data was hindered by a lack of participation by some countries. Last year, when Zika infection rates were at their highest, the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency. As a result of international travel and the fact that the Zika virus is sexually transmitted, many countries around the world became vulnerable to outbreaks. Although the global public health emergency over the Zika threat has ended, it is likely that more transmittable diseases will threaten the people of the world in the future. In order to ensure that countries around the world take part in treatment and prevention efforts concerning possible future diseases, last year’s global response toward Zika must be considered as an example of how well international collaboration worked. Collaborative failures during the global public health emergency must be discussed and corrected in order to ensure the safety of the world’s populace in the years to come.

When considering international collaboration concerning the Zika virus the Dominican Republic’s lack of transparency concerning Zika research and their failure to participate in global prevention efforts should not be forgotten. The Dominican Republic is an island country located in the Caribbean. Since the Caribbean saw particularly high infection rates, public health officials within the country must take part in research efforts. Doctors in the island country focused on preventing and treating the virus, but very little domestic research was conducted on the virus. This lack of research prevented the Dominican Republic from taking part in global discussions related to controlling Zika. This also means that the country lagged behind other countries when it came to practicing new and effective treatments and prevention methods. The island country has never established a formal health ministry, and very little domestic collaboration took place between universities, hospitals and government institutes. The country also does not have a national database that includes the number of infected individuals and other Zika related data.

In the Dominican Republic only physicians are considered authorities on disease. There is a lack of public health officials as well as other professionals that are educated to take part in Zika related discussions. This results in a lack of communication and knowledge concerning various aspects of the Zika virus. The international community will attempt to solve these potentially life threatening problems and shortcomings within the island country by facilitating the establishment of various institutions that include academics, public health experts and international and national researchers.

 

Do you think the Dominican Republic’s inadequacy concerning disease research could become a threat to the United States given the country’s close geographical location?

 

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