There has been a lot in the news lately about the Zika virus, which has been reported in many countries, including Haiti. Zika is spread to people by the Aedes mosquito, which also spreads chikungunya and dengue fever. Last month the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus and a public health emergency of international concern. Haiti’s health ministry recently confirmed that Haiti is experiencing a Zika outbreak.
Zika infection is of particular concern for pregnant women because of widespread speculation that Zika may be linked with serious birth defects. At this time there is no treatment for Zika and no vaccine. The only preventative measure is to try to avoid contact with mosquitoes.Of course we are very worried about our friends in Haiti. Many people spend a great deal of time outside and do not have window screens to keep mosquitoes out of their homes. Any kind of preventative strategy will be a challenge.
Dr. Robinson and Pastor Berlando recently asked Health for Haiti to support some education about Zika and provide some mosquito protection in Grande Saline. This weekend, in response to this request, Schneider presented a Zika education program for about thirty women. The women are pregnant and were selected for the program by the Pastor. Schneider used information from Partners in Health to educate the women about the Zika virus and to give them some advice about how to protect themselves from mosquito bites. As part of the program, each women received a mosquito net and anti-mosquito cream. Schneider made a poster about Zika and asked each of the women to sign the poster after the education program. Juice and sandwiches were provided to all of the women who attended the education event.
Prices for mosquito repellent have skyrocketed, and DEET, which is the most effective type repellent, is hard to find in Haiti. However, Health for Haiti hopes to provide additional repellent and expand our education program in the coming months. Thanks to Schneider for presenting this program and to the Pastor for helping to make it possible!