Government of Canada contributes almost $5 million to global fight against Zika virus

News Release

Canada investing in health research and providing humanitarian assistance

May 11, 2016 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, today announced an investment of $4.95 million in the global fight against the Zika virus.

On February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern, as cases of the virus have now been documented in more than 60 countries. There is a scientific consensus that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by an abnormally small head and underdeveloped brain. There is also scientific consensus that the virus is a cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder. To date, 68 people in Canada have tested positive for the virus.

Canada has taken concerted action to tackle the spread of the Zika virus in the Americas. Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the International Development Research Centre, Canada is investing $3 million to fund teams of Canadian and Latin American and Caribbean researchers. These teams will collaborate to better understand the link between Zika, microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome; develop improved diagnostic tests; study how the virus is transmitted; and, better prevent its transmission through more effective mosquito control measures.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is contributing a further $950,000 to support the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) in responding to the epidemic in the hardest hit countries. Global Affairs Canada will also provide $1 million in humanitarian funding to the WHO, PAHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.


“In the countries that have been hardest hit by the Zika virus, in Latin America and the Caribbean, thousands of cases of microcephaly have left parents distraught and pregnant women fearful. The funding announced today will allow Canadian researchers to work together with their counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean to better understand this virus and its complications, while the funding for the Pan-American Health Organization and other agencies will help address this significant widespread outbreak.”
– The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

“This funding will help protect communities, especially at-risk women, against the Zika virus, strengthen surveillance and improve awareness. By promoting an efficient and coordinated response through its engagement with experienced health and humanitarian partners, Canada is supporting the fight against this disease.”
– Marie-Claude Bibeau
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

“As Canada’s contribution to the Ebola epidemic demonstrated, this country is home to some of the finest minds in virology, infectious diseases and public health anywhere in the world. CIHR is pleased to be able to help equip these researchers with the resources they need to intervene in this public health emergency and contribute to this important global collaboration.”
– Dr. Alain Beaudet
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

“Canada’s proven ability to effectively collaborate with clinicians, scientists, health officials, and other experts around the world, including in developing regions, is critical to our scientific and capacity-building contributions to global efforts to combat epidemics such as Zika. IDRC is proud to be a part of this collaboration.”
– Jean Lebel
President, International Development Research Centre

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Andrew MacKendrick
Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

David Coulombe
Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Jocelyn Sweet
Media Relations
International Development Research Centre

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations

Global Affairs Canada
Media Relations

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) funds research in developing countries to promote growth, reduce poverty, and drive large-scale positive change. IDRC was established by an act of Canada’s parliament in 1970 with a mandate to “initiative, encourage, support, and conduct research into the problems of the developing regions of the world and into the means for applying and adopting scientific, technical, and other knowledge to the economic and social advancement of those regions.”

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