Thank you so much for your support! You have helped to fully fund key components of our project, “Protect Children in Latin America from Zika Virus.” The Zika virus crisis began in 2015 and affected many countries across Latin American and the Caribbean region. It was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO), given the suspected linkage to birth defects and potential to infect up to four million people in a year. During the initial outbreak, UNICEF scaled up its support using its network of local offices, and worked to slow the spread of the virus, mitigate its impact and drive the creation of rapid diagnostic tests.
UNICEF priorities and impact were in three main areas:
In the absence of a cure and ongoing challenges to control the spread of the virus, the development of a vaccine is still of paramount importance, especially for pregnant women and women of child bearing age. Ongoing support is needed to fund research and coordination efforts of vaccine development activities.
While UNICEF USA is closing this project on the GlobalGiving site, we would greatly appreciate your continued support of UNICEF Zika response through the UNICEF Emergency Response project here on GlobalGiving. By supporting UNICEF’s work through that program, you can receive updates on current emergencies happening around the globe, UNICEF’s response, and how you are creating an impact. You can continue to see updates on our programs at www.unicefusa.org; following us on Twitter, or on Facebook.
On behalf of the children impacted by the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean, thank you!
Three months after the Ecuador earthquake, the number of Zika Virus cases increased from 92 to 1,106 country-wide, with the sharpest increase in the quake-hit areas.
According to national data, 80 per cent of the Zika cases are in the province of Manabí where the April 16 earthquake left most damage. After the earthquake, the proliferation of stagnant waters, and concentration of displaced persons increased the risk of vector transmission.
Women between 15 and 49 years of age are the worst affected by the virus, accounting for 509 cases in Manabí.
While there have been no Zika-related microcephaly cases in newborns so far, 73 confirmed cases of pregnant women with Zika Virus have been reported.
“We need to urgently scale up the Zika preventative interventions to reduce its transmission and impact on children and their families”, said Grant Leaity, UNICEF Representative in Ecuador.
UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Public Health on an awareness campaign, and is also working along with the Ministry of Education in order to produce educational material based on Zika Virus prevention for teachers and students. In addition, impregnated mosquito nets, personal hygiene kits and water tank cleaning supplies will be provided for pregnant women as well as families in the most vulnerable areas.
Throughout the earthquake affected zones, UNICEF has also supported the emergency with the provision of temporary educational spaces for approximately 12,000 children and 590 “School in a Box” kits have been given for teachers and an additional 23,600 students. Along with humanitarian partners, about 250,000 people have been benefitted through the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene encouragement. 350,000 Zinc tablets have also been provided for 12,500 children under 5 years of age, micronutrients for more than 80,000 and over 250,000 Vitamin A doses, in order to prevent malnutrition and associated health issues. Over 20,000 children have received psychosocial attention through the ¨Return to Happiness¨ methodology.
With the Zika virus now a public health emergency affecting more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, UNICEF is working with governments to mobilize communities to protect themselves from infection.
“Although there is still no conclusive evidence of the causal link between microcephaly and the Zika virus, there is enough concern to warrant immediate action,” said Dr. Heather Papowitz, UNICEF’s Senior Advisor for Health Emergencies. “We need to act fast to provide women and pregnant mothers with the information they need to protect themselves and their babies, and we need to engage with communities on how to stop the mosquito that is carrying and transmitting this virus.”
Registered cases of microcephaly in newborn babies in Brazil have soared to 4,180 between 22 October 2015 and 26 January 2016. In 2014, there were 147 cases across the whole country. Working with the government and other partners, UNICEF is engaging communities in Brazil with messages on how to avoid mosquito bites and eliminate breeding sites.
With the virus spreading far and fast, simple measures that can help keep people safe include using insect repellent, covering as much of the body as possible with long, light-coloured clothing, removing places where mosquitoes can breed, and putting screens on windows and doors. Pregnant women who think they have been exposed to the virus should seek care by a trained health provider.
While the surge in microcephaly has so far only been reported in Brazil, UNICEF is also scaling up its support to other countries in the region and stands ready to support national governments as needed – using its network of 24 offices serving 35 countries and territories.
UNICEF has launched a nearly $9 million appeal for its programmes to limit the spread of the virus and mitigate its impact on newborns and their families across the region.
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