How to help the Philippines survive its Zika virus pandemic

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) The Philippines is facing a devastating pandemic with thousands dying in an increasingly crowded country with few public services, and an international effort to halt the spread of the Zika virus has been delayed by political infighting and the lack of funding.

The United Nations’ top health official on Thursday warned the country could face a public health catastrophe if it does not get more funding and help with vaccines.

But the United States has pledged $5.6 billion to help and a new effort to get the country on track to get all the aid it needs is still in its infancy, the Associated Press reported.

In the Philippines, nearly 7,000 people died of the virus last week alone, according to the health ministry.

That’s a sharp increase from a total of around 300 deaths recorded in January, the ministry said.