Responding to the Zika crisis

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus a global health emergency after quickly spreading across the Americas in 2015. Zika is connected to microcephaly, a neurological birth disorder where infants are born with underdeveloped brains and abnormally small heads. Approximately one in 200 babies born in Brazil have been affected since the onset of the crisis in late 2015.

In partnership with Johnson & Johnson, TRF’s Brazilian partner, the Social Development Support and Research Institute (IPADS), has been able to address the Zika virus epidemic and the resulting growing incidence of microcephaly in Brazil. The innovative project applying a multi-sector approach is expected to benefit over 5,500 individuals through strategic actions geared at training community health promoters and high-level health professionals on how to handle the Zika virus epidemic and its consequences for maternal-infant health.

picture2The project is based on a partnership between the National Board of Municipal Health Secretariats (CONASEMS), the Social Development Support and Research Institute (IPADS) and the private sector. Through TRF, Johnson & Johnson’s contribution will help train health teams how to properly care for patients with the Zika virus and microcephaly, focusing on the mother-baby care cycle. The training will strengthen prevention, diagnosis, case monitoring, fetus stimulation, and guarantee a safe birth and a healthy beginning of life for Zika/microcephaly affected babies in the most vulnerable regions of Brazil.

Project Manager Professor Thiago Lavras Trapé, PhD explains, “Knowledge about the Zika virus is growing very quickly and few people can follow. The project creates a network of accessible information to the general public with research-based studies and innovative practices in combating Zika.”

The training is based on the health management, disease care, and case management guidelines, protocols, and policies issued by Brazil’s Ministry of Health. It is a short term course with lectures, case-oriented discussions, and dispersion activities in selected public health services. Program graduates – public health care professionals, health workers, and community health agents – will use their knowledge to train others in their communities.