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March 2017 Entry

Zika Prevention Outreach in Nicaragua

Dana Hanley
Orlando · Florida
What is your cause and how will it make the world kinder?

The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus to be a global health emergency in February 2016. The Zika virus has been scientifically linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, microcephaly and other birth defects, with low-income and low-resource communities especially vulnerable to this epidemic. This virus is of particular concern for it is the first infectious disease that is transmitted both sexually and by mosquitoes. The MPI team in Nicaragua is seeing the Zika virus affecting our community of Cedro Galán. Our plan is to make the world kinder through a health promotion program incorporating home visits, community walking, and information sharing, to prevent and reduce the number of Zika cases in the community.

How will you use the $10k?

The funds from KIND Causes will allow MPI to hire a medical professional to train ten members of the Cedro Galán community on Zika symptoms, transmission, and prevention. These individuals will then act as community health promoters, visiting the homes of the community’s 3,500 residents to disburse educational materials, expel misconceptions, and promote means of Zika prevention. MPI will also use the funds to purchase and distribute insect repellent, a luxury most Nicaraguans cannot afford, to pregnant women and their families. Additionally, the funds will be used to provide condoms to pregnant women, as Zika can be transmitted sexually without proper protection and cause severe birth defects.

What impact do you hope to make?

At any given time, an estimated 185 women are pregnant in Cedro Galán. Access to effective repellent and preventative education will decrease the risk of pregnancy complications and potential birth defects. We do not know how long the Zika virus will continue to impact the 3,500 people living in Cedro Galán, and preventative education is vital to reduce the long-term effect of the virus on community health. Our 10 promoters will be trained by a local health professional about the virus and prevention methods, to then share information and systematically reach the entire community in 6 months. This project also equips local health promoters with valuable professional skills and income to impact their families and the local economy.

Other Details

The Zika prevention outreach project will begin in mid January 2017. In January, we will recruit ten volunteers from the Cedro Galán community to work as health promoters and conduct two Zika training sessions led by a hired health professional. By the beginning of February, our volunteers will be fully trained to begin the community outreach, which will continue through the end of June. During these 5 months of outreach, we hope to provide 3,500 people with information on Zika prevention, and 100 pregnant women with effective bug repellent and condoms to be used for the duration of their pregnancy. Ultimately, we hope to decrease Zika prevalence among pregnant women and thus reduce the cases of children born with preventable birth defects.

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