Communities as key actors to tackle Zika

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From April 23 to 27, representatives of Community Action on Zika (CAZ) Project from Save the Children and Red Cross participated on the Workshop “Together we are stronger: involving communities on Zika response”, in Antigua City, Guatemala. More than 80 participants attended the event, organized by Knowledge for Health with the support of USAID.

The main objective was to establish a platform to interchange knowledge, experiences and innovative strategies of institutions implementing actions to respond to Zika virus.

The workshop was attended by Save the Children, IFRC the Caribbean Public Health Agency, Breakthrough ACTION, CARE, the Pan American Development Foundation and UNICEF.

Members of the CAZ project at the regional and national levels shared experiences and lessons learned in the area of participation, community empowerment, social and behavioral change, vector control, surveillance with ovitraps, and care and support.

Ariel Habed, Acting Director of the CAZ project, affirmed that "to achieve an effective behavioral change and a greater impact in actions to combat Zika, it is important to work in coordination with governments at the national and municipal levels, and involve community-based organizations through participatory processes. In the CAZ project we work in a comprehensive way with governments and other partners at the national and local levels to stregthen capacities that guarantee the sustainability of the actions beyond the duration of the project".

Likewise, Monica Posada, Delegate on Community Participation and Accountability of the CAZ Project (IFRC), highlighted the importance of community participation for the success of the project: "We must remember that empowerment of communities is not only to provide knowledge. Empowerment means the acquisition of the necessary power to fend for oneself. From the CAZ project we work so that the communities are organized and strengthened with tools and validated and contextualized approaches to the prevention of Zika".

But undoubtedly, of all the sessions of the workshop, one of the highlights was the participation of parents of babies with microcephaly, who shared their testimonies and personal experiences of the day by day techniques to care and support their children.

*The Community Action on Zika Project is an initiative of Save the Children and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, that is possible thanks to the generous support of American people thought Agency for International Development (USAID).