A new pandemic? Emergency mobilization against Zika virus in Haiti
The Zika virus and its potential impact on pregnant mothers and their unborn babies is striking fear into the hearts of women around the world. Once again, a simple mosquito bite has the potential to deliver devastating consequences to a human host.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Zika virus a public health emergency and CMMB staff in Haiti is rolling out emergency programs to prevent rapid spread of the virus. Zika is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, the same mosquito responsible for transmitting dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.
In Côtes-de-Fer, CMMB healthcare workers have already identified 134 cases of Zika. They include eight pregnant mothers currently served by our programs. Agencies investigating Zika outbreaks are finding increased evidence linking the virus and babies born with microcephaly. The long term impact on these children and the economic impact on their families can be devastating.
Until there is a specific treatment or vaccine for Zika, CMMB is focusing on prevention. A commitment to widespread education about Zika is the best way to minimize infection in Haiti, and other CMMB locations at risk, including Peru. Our Zika education and prevention program will include:
- use of mosquito nets and repellent for pregnant women and children under 5
- raising awareness in women in childbearing age (both pregnant and not pregnant)
- draining of stagnant water sources
- fumigation of at-risk areas
In addition, we are working with our local and global partners, and host governments as we respond to this public health emergency. Our Healing Help team is quickly coordinating pharmaceutical donations to fight fever.
CMMB has been delivering healthcare to women and children in Haiti for more than 100 years. Zika could be one of the most devastating infections ever to strike this community. During this time of fear, we believe that education and prevention is the best way for women, children and communities to fight Zika.