UNICEF LACRO Zika Virus Situation Report #10, 31 December 2016
Despite the fact that ZIKV has been declassified as a Health Emergency of International Concern, UNICEF still considers ZIKV to be a serious health threat in Latin America and the Caribbean. UNICEF is now responding in 33 countries and territories in the region, working with governments, NGOs and other partners to respond to the needs, while strengthening initial ZIKV response initiatives in priority countries. There is a focus on prevention activities for the most at risk groups, namely pregnant women, women of child-bearing age and their partners, with adolescents being a sub-priority group that spans all of these, whilst non clinical Care and Support activities are focused on newborns, young children and families affected by ZIKV congenital syndrome.
As 2016 draws to a close, UNICEF continues to work with partners to prevent transmission of ZIKV. The majority of work in 2016 was focused on eliminating mosquito breeding sites and personal protection from mosquito bites, but as the new evidence of sexual transmission evolved UNICEF has supported activities around sexual and reproductive health. UNICEF has worked to increase the awareness around the consequences of ZIKV for pregnant women and their developing child, and how these have long term consequences are different than other infections such as Dengue and chikungunya.
In November 2016 expanded non clinical Care & Support activities for children affected by ZIKV and their families were launched in Recife and Campina Grande, Brazil under the Network for Inclusion project. This builds on existing health care based actions in these municipalities and combines with UNICEF supported family-based interventions in the State of Ceara. With over 2,300 children already confirmed with congenital malformations associated with ZIKV in LAC, and research demonstrating that ZIKV affects children beyond microcephaly (affecting eyesight, hearing, physical and intellectual development) this area will be the focus of UNICEF’s ZIKV work in 2017.