Zika

Photo by Dr. Karen Orellana

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 the Zika virus epidemic emergency response, ASSIST is providing intensive assistance to the Ministry of Health in five countries – the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Activities supported include: conducting a baseline assessment of the quality of Zika-related care, revising Zika-related clinical guidelines, training health care providers on counseling skills, improving Zika-related clinical processes, conducting face-to-face and virtual courses on Zika-related health care, implementing a Zika quality improvement program, and cultivating a Zika community of practice to rapidly scale up learning across all affected countries.

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.

Our “Best 9” stories in 2017

Vicky Ramirez

Consultant, USAID ASSIST Project/URC

Looking back, 2017 was a great year for us at USAID ASSIST. In 2017, we were featured in USAID’s Exposure; we collaborated with a number of partners to publish ICHC Blog Series, which was cross-posted on The Huffington Post; and we ran a blog series in honor of Health Worker Week. After our resources page, our blog was the most visited page on our website. In case you missed some of these highlights, we’ve put together our “Best 9” stories. These posts illustrate the stories behind the great work employed by our country teams, partners, and individuals. Let us know which story you loved the most!

Two years on: Implications of the Zika epidemic on the health of women and newborns in the Americas, current and future challenges (in Spanish)

Online

Han transcurrido más de dos años desde que el virus del Zika se propagó rápidamente a través de las Américas después de su aparición inicial en Brasil en mayo de 2015, evolucionando de una emergencia a un desafío de la salud pública a largo plazo.

International Workshop on Strengthening Health Services to Fight Zika

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

WEBINAR: Care and support for babies and families affected by Zika: The experience of Brazil (in Spanish)

El síndrome congénito de Zika presenta un patrón único de anomalías congénitas graves que se encuentran entre los bebés infectados con el virus Zika durante el embarazo y que provocan un retraso global en su neurodesarrollo, lo cual incide en su calidad de vida y la de sus familias.

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