The recent emergence and rapid spread of the Zika virus presents a grave, new challenge for health systems and practitioners across the Zika-affected regions, as they work to address the unique health needs and concerns of individuals and families affected by the epidemic.

Zika is spread primarily through the Aedes mosquito – the same species of mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya – but the virus can also be transmitted via sexual contact. Common symptoms of Zika for an otherwise healthy adult include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache, lasting up to a week.However, most concerning for health workers is that Zika is passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy.

While the symptoms for an adult are mild, Zika infection during pregnancy can have grave consequences for the growing fetus. Zika infection during pregnancy has been linked to an increase in birth defects across the Zika-affected regions, particularly a serious birth defect called microcephaly, which results in unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns.

As part of USAID’s Zika response, ASSIST has been implementing health systems strengthening efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean to provide targeted support to health systems affected by the Zika virus. ASSIST is working to improve the capacity of Zika-related health services to deliver consistent, evidence-based, respectful, high-quality care—with a focus on pregnant women, newborns, and women of reproductive age.

To learn more about our work improving care in Zika, read this overview and explore our Zika resources and publications below.

In addition to the resources provided here, ASSIST maintains a website in Spanish with exclusively Zika-related content: www.maternoinfantil.org/zika.

Male Partner Engagement in Antenatal Care and Zika-related Health Care

The Zika virus, transmitted through mosquito bites, through mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy or through sexual contact, spread rapidly across 27 countries in the Western Hemisphere from 2015 through 2017.1 If a pregnant women...

Barriers and facilitators to head circumference and neurodevelopmental surveillance in wellchild clinics in Jamaica

Neurodevelopmental risks from Zika virus infection during pregnancy are becoming increasingly understood, and comprehensive physical exams, including growth parameters, and developmental monitoring and assessment at each well-child visit...

Jamaica Neurodevelopmental Surveillance in the Age of Zika ECHO Evaluation

The Jamaica Neurodevelopmantal Surveillance in the Age of Zika ECHO (Jamaica NDS ECHO) is a partnership between the Jamaica Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project,...

Eastern and Southern Caribbean: Gender Considerations in the Context of Zika Emergency Response Programming

After arriving in Brazil in May 2015, Zika virus rapidly swept across the Americas. By February 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus infection a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to its associations...

Gender Issues Influencing Zika Response in Antigua

To better the understand the real-time situation of Zika-related health services for women, men, couples and families, project stakeholders commissioned this gender analysis to look at existing services, challenges, and opportunities. The...


Este estudio de caso describe la incorporación, para mejorar la calidad de la atención prenatal en Zika en la consulta externa en la Unidad de Salud de Zarumilla, de las herramientas: Sello de Consejería, Cartillas de Consejería Prenatal...

Informe Resumen de las Actividades del Proyecto de USAID “Aplicando la Ciencia a Fortalecer y Mejorar los Sistemas de Salud” en el Ecuador

El Proyecto de USAID Aplicando la Ciencia para Mejorar y Fortalecer los Sistemas de Salud (ASSIST) es el sucesor del Proyecto de Mejoramiento de la Atención en Salud (HCI), implementado por University Research Company LLC (URC) durante el...

Zika webinar series -Improving prevention of Zika virus infection, early detection of its harmful consequences and care and support of babies and families potentially affected by Zika: What we learned through work with over 800 facilities in 13 countries

The USAID Zika team in collaboration with GHPOD hosted a webinar series to highlight accomplishments and lessons learned from partners across the Zika response. This presentation from USAID ASSIST team discussed the overview of USAID ASSIST’s integral approach to the Zika response in LAC, shared selected high-level results and illustrative country and regional experiences and lessons learned.

Presenters: Tamar Chitashvili, Jorge Hermida, Charlene Coore-Desai and Maria-Jose Escalante.
Date/time: January 17th, 12:00-  1:00pm EST.

Gender Issues Influencing Zika Response in Paraguay

There are various programs that promote practices to prevent vector-borne and sexually-transmitted Zika and link families with children affected by Zika to the care they need. However, to respond to these needs most effectively, and to...