Americas Region: Zika virus disease outbreak Emergency Appeal no. MDR42003

This Emergency Appeal seeks a total of 2,380,409 Swiss francs (CHF) to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the National Societies in the Americas region to deliver assistance and support to 200,000 people through direct intervention and 1 million people through indirect community engagement, with a focus on health, water, sanitation, hygiene promotion and preparedness. This regional Emergency Appeal is launched on a preliminary basis pending further assessment and revision in the coming weeks.

The disaster and the Red Cross Red Crescent response to date

17 January 2016: Twenty-three countries and territories in the Americas region confirmed autochthonous circulation of Zika virus within their respective borders.

1 February 2016: Emergency Appeal launched for 2,380,409 Swiss francs to reach 200,000 people through direct intervention and 1 million people through indirect community engagement. A start-up loan from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) for 200,002 Swiss francs.

The operational strategy

Needs assessment:

On 1 February 2016, the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. The current Zika Virus (ZIKV) outbreak in the Americas is unprecedented in terms of the number of cases. Up to 1 February 2016, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that 24 countries and territories in the Americas have confirmed autochthonous circulation of Zika virus: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico,
Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

National Societies have previous experience responding to the other diseases transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes (i.e. dengue fever and chikungunya). The main line of action, based on the strategy on vector control and hygiene promotion, will focus on the cleaning of housing and communities. In addition, local level actions will be complemented with promotion and dissemination of health messages so people are able to identify symptoms related to the disease and seek medical assistance at health care centres.

During the previous years, the Preparedness Disaster Reference Centre for National Societies has, together with experts in the field, developed training materials focused on mass sanitation and epidemic control for volunteers, but not enough trainers have been prepared to ensure adequate numbers of these trainings at National Society level. This shows the need for regional “Training of Trainers” activities, including a solid communication and community engagement approach.
The complexity and scale of the emergency and the current potential spread of the Zika virus calls for regional coordination and support of the various Red Cross National Societies response interventions, as well as full support and coordination from the IFRC’s teams at global, regional and multi-country level to ensure coherence and consistency across the organization.

This Emergency Appeal describes the necessary measures to achieve adequate operational support. The plan is based on the lessons learned from the epidemic response operations to date and it is also planned to hold further lesson-learning exercises by the end of the operations, in order to improve our knowledge around vector-borne disease responses for the future and to improve risk reduction and community resilience measures for the communities affected. The plan also includes further and continuous assessment and will be revised accordingly in the coming weeks.

A start-up loan from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) for 200,002 Swiss francs will be released to support initial relief and response activities including household application of larvacide, fogging, social mobilization and procurement and distribution of relevant personal equipment for staff and volunteers. These interventions will begin with the operation in Brazil, while other country level assessments are underway. These activities may be revised in the coming weeks based on the outcomes and recommendations from the assessments as the situation evolves.