What should we learn from Zika?

The 2016 Zika outbreak in the Americas was a public health emergency of international concern. Alongside traditional approaches, several digital technologies were used to tackle this rapidly spreading global health threat. A recent review, identified several domains of digital technologies which were utilised during the Zika outbreak, such as computational modelling , big data , mobile health , and other novel technologies [1].

Modelling approaches were used to estimate the effectiveness of intervention strategies to control the spread of ZIKV, whilst big data were used by national and international health agencies including the WHO and the CDC for the purposes of outreach, health communication, online engagement and social media monitoring of public awareness . Other studies combined data from different web-based data streams such as Google trends, Twitter and HealthMap with traditional surveillance case data to track and predict Zika incidence during the 2016 Latin America outbreak [1].

Another major lesson learned was also to adopt a a multi-sectoral approach to tackle outbreaks such as Zika, as explained by Dr.Alfonso J. Rodriguez-Morales at the latest edition of  Geneva Health Forum: Precision Global Health in the Digital Age.


[1]Ahmadi S, Bempong N-E, De Santis O, Sheath D, Flahault A. The role of digital technologies in tackling the Zika outbreak: a scoping review. Journal of Public Health and Emergency. 2018;2(6).


Written by Nefti Bempong

Video produced by Aude Richard

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