El Rosario, El Salvador
With no known cure, the mosquito-borne viruses of dengue andchikungunya pose a significant public health threat to vulnerable populations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Working with long-term partner FUSAL in El Salvador, AmeriCares recently supported a grassroots education and prevention campaign that reached 25,000 inhabitants in coastal communities suffering from a high incidence of these infections.
The campaign reached out to the people in the communities through information sessions set up in schools, sport centers and communal meeting houses. In addition, fumigation and support for local sanitation activities ensured that the conditions which permitted the diseases to thrive were eradicated or minimized, leaving the communities in a better position to manage the present outbreak and prevent future occurrences.
AmeriCares medical aid also allowed FUSAL to provide the inhabitants of 15 municipalities with basic pain relievers such as acetaminophen, a source of much-needed relief for residents suffering with these infections.
People are infected with dengue and chikungunya by virus-carrying mosquitoes, which breed in the warm waters of tropical climates. To help reduce the threat, mosquitoes must be controlled through fumigation and elimination of potential breeding grounds. Chikungunya produces a high fever and extremely severe joint pain but is not usually life threatening. Similar to malaria, dengue can cause high fever, painful headache and dehydration. In its most severe form, dengue causes internal bleeding and even death. Prompt treatment is important for both viruses, and the symptoms are particularly harsh for children and the elderly.
AmeriCares is currently working in many of the same coastal communities of El Salvador with FUSAL (Fundación Salvadoreña para la Salud y el Desarrollo Humano) implementing a pilot disaster risk reduction project designed to help vulnerable populations protect themselves more effectively from their environmental risks such as flooding.