One of things you learn when diseases break out in poor countries is that their government websites are terrible and their health-ministry websites are worse. Even Ebola never provoked Guinea to create a new health site to replace the decrepit one some Indonesian hacker had euthanized, and Liberia's and Sierra Leone's are pretty seriously inadequate. Don't get me going.
Now that WHO has declared a PHEIC, we can expect a tsunami of money to flood into fighting Zika, microcephaly, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. But it will be hard to define progress in this effort unless we know something about the state of neurological syndromes and microcephaly in Latin America before Zika arrived. As I discovered while researching my Tyee article this weekend, congenital malformations are routinely tracked in Europe and North America, but finding such information in Latin America is beyond my feeble Google search skills.
In fact, if you go to the Ministries of Health Worldwide link in my Key Sites list, and browse through Latin American sites, you'll be lucky to find a search function, let alone information on congenital malformations. Even Google Scholar turns up almost nothing (again, mea culpa—Google's own wizards could doubtless find masses of information).
Confirming Zika's involvement in microcephaly and GBS will be hard at best, and still less so if we start out clueless about their prevalence in Latin America (and the South Pacific, and East Africa) before Zika began its march around the world from Uganda.
An obvious resource is ECLAMC: the Latin American Collaborative Study of Congenital Malformations, which raised the first serious questions about the Zika-microcephaly link (see the Zika Virus document on their site). But much information will have to be extracted from dusty ministry archives, if it is there to be extracted at all.
As we've seen with SARS, H1N1, H5N1, cholera, MERS, and Ebola, WHO is exactly as effective as its political perceptions allow it to be. If it annoys a Member State with political clout in the UN, it will suffer. So, gladly or not, it suffers too many governments run by fools, for whom the suffering of babies and their parents doesn't even register, let alone be written off as a cost of doing business.
We can hope that Zika will make it different this time. And if not Zika, then the next outbreak. Or the next.