A. Situation Analysis
Description of the Disaster
On 23 January 2016, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) reported the presence of the Zika virus in the Dominican Republic after 10 cases were confirmed, eight were contracted locally and two were imported from El Salvador. Affected people are from different locations across the country: the National District and the municipalities of Santo Domingo Norte, Jimaní Oeste near the Haitian border and the provinces of Independencia and the locality of Santa Cruz in Barahona province (southwest Dominican Republic). Eight of the 10 cases were identified in people aged 15 to 57, and the remaining two cases were identified in children under five years of age. The onset of symptoms was detected between 3 and 18 January 2016. Fevers and rash were reported in all of the cases, conjunctivitis was reported in eight of the ten cases, discomfort, headaches and arthralgias (joint pain) were reported in six of ten cases and myalgia was reported in five of ten cases.
Cases were confirmed by testing samples through reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC).
Dominican health authorities intensified surveillance activities and the implementation of vector control measures, as well as educational activities for the Dominican population on the risks associated with the Zika virus, encouraging them to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
After confirming the circulation of the virus, the Dominican government issued Decree 7-16 on 23 January 2016, which instructed the Ministry of Health to coordinate actions to detect and confirm cases of dengue, chikungunya and Zika, address and implement a guidance strategy and to reduce the number of mosquito-breeding sites. The Ministry of Defence and specialized security forces were ordered to conduct any measures required by public health, government agencies were ordered to get actively involved and institutions were ordered to disseminate prevention information through virtual platforms, social networks and other mechanisms.
During Epidemiological Week number 4, 32 new suspected cases of Zika were reported with autochthonous transmission proven, by locality the cases were reported in: National District (8) and municipalities of Jimaní (14), Santo Domingo Norte (3) and Santa Cruz de Barahona (7).
Health authorities are conducting intensified surveillance of febrile rash illness (enferemdad febril exantémica - EFE). Through this surveillance, 45 cases have been identified and investigated in other localities of the country, of which 38 met the criteria for laboratory diagnosis. Samples were sent to the laboratory of the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) in the United States. In line with this strategy, the Ministry of Health continues to advance in strengthening the Dr. Defilló National Laboratory with assistance from PAHO and the CDC to enable the samples to eventually be processed in country.
In addition to the detection of virus circulation, the Ministry of Health is encouraging all the components of the health sector in the Dominican Republic to implement systematic monitoring and weekly notifications of EFE episodes, with an aim to monitor the course of the epidemic.
Summary of current response
Overview of Host National Society
The Dominican Red Cross has been carrying out concrete actions to provide assistance to the affected population, together with the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education, the Prison System Directorate-General, and Dominican universities, through the deployment of 468 volunteers to support prevention efforts conducted by the Ministry of Health via national mobilization campaigns against Zika, dengue and chikungunya.
Dominican Red Cross volunteers are actively involved in the elimination of mosquito breeding sites, distribution of educational materials, larviciding, garbage removal and the cleaning of gutters. Volunteer efforts have contributed to a reduction in the risk of contracting Zika, dengue and chikungunya in 318 communities nationwide, including Santo Domingo, National District, San Pedro de Macorís, La Vega, San Cristóbal, Monsenor Nouel, San Francisco de Macorís, La Altagracia, Dajabón, Monte Plata, Nagua and Santiago.
Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in the Country
The IFRC has an office in the country to support Dominican Red Cross activities. It also has the support of a disaster management coordinator from the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), who is providing technical support and guidance to the operation.
The Spanish Red Cross has an office through which it runs joint capacity building and community strengthening projects with the National Society.
The Canadian Red Cross Society is developing a second project with the Dominican Red Cross to build the National Society’s first response capacity.