Following the directive of the ministry of health, the Bengal government has decided to conduct a mammoth surveillance exercise to measure the head circumference of every newborn in the state.
This will be done to find out if there is any sudden rise in microcephaly – a birth defect that leads to abnormally small heads in newborns and is a symptom of Zika virus that is ravaging Brazil.
On Monday, the state health department directed the principals of all government and private medical colleges and hospitals and chief medical officers of health (CMOH) in districts to identify and notify about all newborns with microcephaly.
The department has also directed them to submit weekly reports on this birth defect.
The medical officers in gynaecology and obstetric department in state-run hospitals and concerned nurses have been asked to examine each newborn for microcephaly. “The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently declared that Zika virus is associated with microcephaly of newborns and is an emergency,” an order issued by Sanghamitra Ghosh, commissioner of the state family welfare, stated.
Apart from the delivery cases in hospitals and health centres, the surveillance will also be conducted among babies born at homes.
Currently, 23 countries have reported Zika transmission with most cases reported in Brazil.