With the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, Americares has continued its efforts to educate families on prevention while providing supplies to help protect them from mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.
The World Health Organization first declared an international public health emergency on February 1, 2016 because of a suspected link between the virus, which has no cure, and microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads and abnormal brain development. Since that time, while the emergency has been lifted, world health experts are facing a long struggle against the disease as the association between the increase in babies born with microcephaly, other possible birth defects and the incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome has coincided with the growing number of Zika virus infections.
Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, where infection rates have been highest, Americares continues working to ensure hospitals and clinics have the medicine, supplies and support for prevention programs to address this health crisis and provide the best possible care. Since prevention is the key to controlling Zika, protection kits with repellent, bed nets and educational materials have been distributed to families and pregnant women in El Salvador, Colombia and Haiti. The Americares Family Clinic in El Salvador, began tracking suspected Zika infections in early December 2015 in coordination with the Ministry of Health. Since that time, the clinic has developed and strengthened Zika prevention and intervention programs supporting control efforts by providing family protection kits and educational and training materials for target groups in the community at high risk of Zika, including pregnant women, women of childbearing age and mothers who have had Zika symptoms during pregnancy. In partnership with Maternova, Americares has also piloted a personal protective apparel line for women and girls in El Salvador to help prevent the spread of Zika and other vector-borne diseases. The Clinic is assessing the compliance of personal protective apparel and providing feedback on future design.
In addition, Americares delivered medicine, supplies and hygiene products to six hospitals in the National Health System of El Salvador, including those serving large numbers of pregnant women and reporting a high incidence of Zika cases. Americares has supported more than 150 medical teams travelling to the region, providing them with medicines, supplies and education materials In the southern United States and Puerto Rico, Americares provided 300,000 cans of OFF!® aerosol repellent to protect low-income and uninsured families from mosquitoes that could be carrying the Zika virus. The repellent, donated by SC Johnson, has been delivered free of charge to clinics, health departments and nonprofit partners. Americares also worked with The Salvation Army to distribute 70,000 cans of OFF! in Puerto Rico. Overall, Americares has provided more than $1.5 million of aid to combat the Zika Virus across Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Puerto Rico and the United States.
Americares Family Clinic in El Salvador serves 60,000 patients a year, including prenatal patients.