Zika Prevention & Care
In 2016, Direct Relief, in partnership with International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), Batey Relief Alliance, and others, committed to launch a multi-national response to the current Zika outbreak across Latin America, the United States, and the Caribbean. The multi-faceted response will focus on reproductive health and family planning, prenatal care, and the prevention of transmission through the distribution of essential commodities empowering communities to take preventative actions and make informed decisions about their health. This response will take the form of Zika Modules designed to protect against the transmission and the potentially devastating consequences of the virus. Direct Relief will distribute up to Zika Modules to partners involved in comprehensive, community-based Zika response efforts in Argentina, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, the United States (specifically Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas), and Venezuela. Modules will include: insect repellent, biodegradable mosquito traps, digital thermometers, ultrasounds, fetal dopplers, and contraceptives.
Direct Relief’s approach to the Zika response efforts is the same approach taken for nearly 70 years: work to identify qualified local partners treating vulnerable populations, gather and aggregate their needs to help them better treat these populations, and then provide them access to medical, financial, and/or professional resources they may not otherwise have access to.
In collaboration with the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), local healthcare providers, Ministries of Health, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in target countries, Direct Relief is launching a multi-national response to address the current Zika outbreak in Latin America, the U.S. and the Caribbean. This intervention will be implemented in Argentina, Dominican Republic (Batey Relief Alliance), El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, the United States (specifically Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas), and Venezuela. The multi-faceted response will focus on reproductive health and family planning, prenatal care, and the prevention of transmission through the distribution of essential commodities empowering communities to take preventative actions and make informed decisions about their health.
This response will take the form of Zika Modules designed to protect against the transmission and the potentially devastating consequences of the virus. Direct Relief will distribute up to 40 Zika Modules (10 per quarter) to partners involved in comprehensive, community-based Zika response efforts. These modules will include: insect repellent, biodegradable mosquito traps, digital thermometers, ultrasounds, fetal dopplers, and contraceptives. The modules will be deployed to local partners who will be trained on the usage of equipment and distribution of supplies at the community level. The modules are designed to provide health workers and community members with tools to prevent the transmission of Zika as well as empower women of reproductive age and pregnant women to make informed decision about their health in order to optimize health outcomes.
The portable ultrasound machines and fetal dopplers are designed to be used in both hospitals and clinics, and in rural, low tech settings. These, along with Direct Relief’s branded prenatal vitamins, will provide health workers with the tools to perform basic diagnostics on pregnant women in affected areas, screen for microcephaly, and bolster efforts to promote healthy pregnancies. The insect repellent supplied by 3M will be distributed primarily to families with pregnant women, as fetuses are at the highest risk of Zika-related complications and prevention of transmission is of the utmost importance. The digital thermometers, donated by Medtronic, act as an additional diagnostic tool, as fevers are a commonly documented symptom of Zika. The Biotraps (biodegradable mosquito traps designed for household use) will be donated through a philanthropic partnership with, Greenlid, Envirosciences, who will donate one Biotrap for every trap purchased.
Additionally, Direct Relief’s partner, IPPF/WHR has secured an initial $2 million from USAID and an additional $80,000 from individual donors to strengthen clinician training and counseling for family planning and prenatal services in El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Honduras. The second round of Zika Modules is planned for distribution among IPPF/WHR members who receive training.
Direct Relief will also bolster its essential medicine supply aid to implementing partners burdened by the current management of the Zika virus and its health consequences. As these providers and healthcare institutions are chronically underfunded and treating the most vulnerable, the outbreak of Zika is creating a heavy burden on already limited resources. Finally, Direct Relief will continue to update and expand upon their Zika Map, to illustrate the effects of Zika, its spread, and actions taken to address it.
-Deploy the first round of eleven “Zika Modules” to recipients in the target countries.
(focus on reduction in transmission and safe pregnancies with the delivery of repellent, ultrasounds and dopplers)
-Bolster regular, on-going medical aid to their international and local partner network who are actively involved in the Zika response efforts in their communities
-Begin IPPF/WHR training of local clinicians-Revise and update Zika Map to show increased spread of Zika and Direct Relief support
-Deploy second round of eleven Zika Modules which will include: Greenlid mosquito traps, contraceptives and additional repellent
– Bolster regular, on-going medical aid to their international and local partner network who are actively involved in the Zika response efforts in their communities
-Ongoing training of IPPF/WHR local clinicians
-Revise and update Zika Map to show increased spread of Zika and Direct Relief support
Targeted modules will follow based on the specific needs of the recipient in the region and as Zika continues to expand and unfold. At this time, Direct Relief will also look to support community health workers, clinics, and hospitals in the region to ensure they have the tools, resources, and information they need to carry out their jobs effectively and ensure that non-Zika related illnesses are also being addressed.
-Reassess needs of local partner organizations for additional supplies, training, and non-Zika related resources
-Revise and update Zika Map to show increased spread of Zika and Direct Relief support
On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus (Zika) a public health emergency. By August 18, 2016, 67 countries and territories had reported mosquito born Zika transmission, 45 of which are in the Americas and the Caribbean. While Zika has traditionally been transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, the current epidemic has also seen the virus spread through person-to-person contact, namely via sexual transmission, according to UNICEF.
While the symptoms of Zika are generally mild, affecting one in four people infected, the threat of Zika to pregnant women and their newborn babies is of grave concern. The virus is a cause of microcephaly – a congenital malformation whereby babies are born with smaller than normal head size and underdeveloped brains that can lead to severe developmental disorders. The virus has also been linked with other neurologic disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare nervous system disorder that can cause temporary paralysis. According to UNICEF, as of July 28, 2016, there were 530,383 suspected or confirmed cases of Zika in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region; 22,446 cases of Zika in pregnant women were reported through laboratory confirmed testing; and more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly suggestive of congenital infections or potentially associated with Zika were reported in Brazil.
With no available vaccine or treatment for the disease, and limited diagnostic tools that can be employed outside of laboratory settings, the biggest challenge is ensuring women of childbearing age and pregnant women are both safely protected from the day-biting Aedes mosquitos and also monitored closely while pregnant so they are aware of the risks to the baby and potential implications. Direct Relief will support community efforts to both control and prevent the spread of Zika and bolster support for its community health partners who are providing outreach and care to those who have been affected by the virus or are at risk of being affected.
Direct Relief has accomplished the deployment of 12 Zika Modules to recipients in the target countries since the inception of this CGI commitment. While the modules sent have had a great impact on the recipient communities, the number of modules sent falls significantly short of the targeted 40 modules proposed in the original commitment. Additionally, due to limited commercial donor support, the Biotraps have not been included in the modules.
Direct Relief has increased essential medicine supply aid to countries with implementing partners by 31-128% to relieve some of the burden created by the outbreak of Zika.
Direct Relief’s Zika Map has been regularly updated, displaying data from the CDC and the European CDC to effectively disseminate relative information to the public, to Direct Relief’s partners and to the Public Health sector.
Direct Relief continues to support health-focused organizations in Zika-affected areas. The need is enormous and additional support is needed to procure the items necessary in the prevention of the spread of Zika, a quickly spreading virus that has potentially devastating health outcomes on the fetuses of mothers who have been infected. The need will only be greater after unprecedented rainfall experienced throughout the Americas this season, resulting in significantly higher numbers of mosquitos which are the primary vectors of the virus.
Direct Relief is offering the following medical material aid to healthcare facilities in Zika-affected areas: Portable ultrasound machines, fetal dopplers, insect repellent, prenatal vitamins, thermometers, contraceptives and biodegradable mosquito traps. Direct Relief partner, IPPF/WHR will be providing technical assistance and financial support to their member organizations to help train health workers on Zika and its complications and implications on the health of pregnant women and the need to stay protected. In addition, Direct Relief will offer additional support to participating healthcare facilities who are dealing with and responding to Zika in their communities and who don’t have sufficient resources to spend on non-Zika related commodities.