Colombian Ambassador Urges Global Cooperation to Help Tackle Public Health Issues like the Zika Virus Outbreak

March 2, 2016

For this February edition of the GFDD Global Roundtables, GFDD Executive Director, Natasha Despotovic welcomed H.E. Andrés González Díaz, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the Organization of American States.

The session considered the recent outbreak of the Zika virus and its socioeconomic consequences in Colombia and the Americas.

Ambassador González Díaz stressed that the “most important is to work together and do our utmost to prevent and reduce the consequences of the outbreak.” He explained that in Colombia over 30,000 cases had been reported and that the government’s goal had been to take immediate preventative actions. He explained that such actions had begun by
enforcing control measures in areas where the outbreaks had been taking place.

The Ambassador highlighted that key to these actions was identifying particular zones where the mosquitoes were breeding such as pools, particular standing water hot spots where mosquitoes typically lay their eggs. He stated that a basic education campaign was underway with local communities, a crucial step for establishing corrective measures, such as reminding individuals not to use perfume
(which can attract mosquitoes), but mosquito repellent.

Despotovic next turned to the topic of microcephaly (a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex) and pointed out that the
media had recently established a possible link between the disease and the Zika virus. Ambassador González Díaz confirmed that no reported case of microcephaly had yet been recorded in his country but stressed that his government is actively carrying out prenatal checks to monitor the situation closely.

Commenting on what international actions could be taken by the international community to prevent future outbreaks of tropical diseases, such as the zika or chikungunya
viruses, the Ambassador emphasized the “need for global cooperation to prevent future outbreaks.”

About Ambassador González Díaz
Ambassador González Díaz is a qualified attorney from the External University of Colombia (Universidad Externado de Colombia) from which he holds a specialization in Public Law and a Masters in Political Science and International Relations from the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris. The
Ambassador held several high-level roles within the Presidency, including as Secretary of the Council of Ministers. Following these appointments, the Ambassador has held various other positions, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. He was also governor of Cundinamarca three times. In 2012, he was appointed by President Juan Manuel Santos as Permanent Representative of Colombia to the Organization of American States, a position he continues to hold today. Most recently,
the Ambassador was appointed Chairman of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI).

About the Global Roundtable
In close association with the United Nations, the Mission of the Dominican Republic to the UN, GFDD organizes regular meetings with UN Ambassadors and other prominent figures in the international community in an effort to spread the news, knowledge and understanding of other countries, global issues and work of
different United Nations bodies to its audience in the Dominican Republic, the US and around the world.

The regular series, GFDD Global Roundtable is also a part of GFDD’s program to support the work of the United Nations and, as a non-governmental institution affiliated to it, contribute to the visibility and understanding of its work.

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