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.

Zika Case Studies from the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems Project, 2018-2020

This compendium features Zika case studies from the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project from 2018-2020.

Care and Support for Mothers, Infants, and Families Affected by Zika: Sharing Lessons Learned and Recommendations for the Future

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project organized USAID’s regional meeting: Care and Support for Infants, Mothers, and Families Affected by 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...