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.

Jamaica: 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 January 2016 it had reached the island of Jamaica, and according to statistics reported to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World...

Assessing the quality of USAID ASSIST Zika program data in the Dominican Republic

The USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project implemented Zika related health systems strengthening efforts in the Dominican Republic from January 2017 through May 2019. The objectives of this study were to...

Comparing the effectiveness and costeffectiveness of on-line versus in-person training for strengthening the Zika response in Ecuador

In the face of a health emergency such as the Zika epidemic, large numbers of front-line health workers require comprehensive training on a short timeline. Compared to traditional face-to-face (FTF) training, online health training (OHT)...

Involucramiento de los Puestos de Salud en la Mejora de la Atencion Prenatal en el Contexto de Zika en Guatemala

Con el apoyo de ASSIST, se capacitó al personal de los puestos de salud en los componentes de la atención prenatal, en el contexto de Zika. El equipo de mejora del centro de salud también les compartió una de sus mejores prácticas: el uso...

Involving Health Posts in Quality Improvement of Prenatal Care in the Context of Zika

With the support of ASSIST, the personnel of the health posts were trained in the components of prenatal care in the context of Zika. The health center’s quality improvement team also shared with them one of its best practices: the use of...

Zika webinar series - Connecting and coordinating people and knowledge for an agile outbreak response


The USAID Zika team in collaboration with GHPoD is putting on a webinar series to highlight accomplishments and lessons learned from partners across the Zika response. Please join representatives from the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs as they share strategies and lessons learned regarding how knowledge management efforts provide critical opportunities for partners to coordinate and exchange knowledge throughout the Zika response.

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

El Proyecto de USAID Aplicando la Ciencia para Fortalecer y Mejorar los Sistemas de Salud (ASSIST) como organización implementadora de la Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID) tuvo como objetivo fortalecer...

Proyecto de USAID Aplicando la Ciencia para Fortalecer y Mejorar los Sistemas de Salud (ASSIST) Informe Resumen de El Salvador

Este informe describe en forma resumida las intervenciones y los resultados alcanzados en Mejora de la Calidad de la Atención y la asesoría técnica brindada por el Proyecto ASSIST de USAID al MINSAL e ISSS; así como los productos...


El Hospital Básico de Shushufindi (HBSSFND), está localizado en las estribaciones orientales de la provincia de Sucumbíos en Ecuador, en la frontera con Colombia. Es un hospital de segundo nivel básico que brinda atenciones a 55.500...

Zika webinar series - Children as Agents of Change in the Prevention of Zika and Other Vector-Borne Diseases


The USAID Zika team in collaboration with GHPoD is putting on a webinar series to highlight accomplishments and lessons learned from partners across the Zika response. On Oct. 29th as the Combating Zika webinar series continues, this presentation highlighted the importance of actively engaging and empowering children and adolescents in disease prevention activities.