Publish Date: November 2019
In February 2016, the World Health Organization announced that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders reported in Brazil, following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014 (both areas affected by a Zika virus [ZIKV] outbreak), constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. MCSP responded to the outbreak in June 2016 with an initial focus on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and later the Eastern and Southern Caribbean region.
As the ZIKV epidemic in the Americas evolved, significant challenges became apparent in the affected health systems’ capacity to address prevention, surveillance, and management of infectious disease, congenital defects, and their consequences. Since the beginning of ZIKV response efforts, MCSP focused on developing and implementing strategies to increase the capacity of these health systems to care for women of reproductive age, pregnant women, newborns, infants, children, and families at risk of and affected by ZIKV infection.
Through activities at global, regional, and country levels, MCSP provided technical leadership on issues related to the ZIKV outbreak response, particularly with regard to the care and support of ZIKV-affected children and their families. MCSP leveraged relationships with a range of global-, regional-, and country-level partners, and collaborated with ministries of health and professional associations to address these gaps in health system and provider capacity to care for those affected by ZIKV.
The 2015 outbreak in LAC revealed many gaps in the reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health continuum of care and significant health system weaknesses related to infectious disease diagnosis and surveillance. Through close partnerships with country governments and other local stakeholders, MCSP identified several key recommendations for future partners and projects.