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.

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...

Evaluation of the Region-Led Expansion of Zika Prevention, Care, and Support Best Practices in the Dominican Republic

In 2017, the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project began working with 17 hospitals across five of the Dominican Republic’s nine health regions to test changes to improve the quality of Zika services,...

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...