Zika virus: the IFRC response

National Societies and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are cooperating with communities to build awareness about the Zika virus and promote effective prevention techniques to reduce its spread and impact.

The Zika virus outbreak that has spread across 28 countries in the Americas in recent months, has created alarm among the population. The growth of the outbreak has prompted the World Health Organization to activate the public health emergency of international concern. Questions, fears and even rumours have spread as rapidly as the disease.

In response, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has mobilized resources to respond effectively to this health emergency, in prevention, vector control, psychosocial support and – above all – awareness and information.

The IFRC has launched an emergency appeal with the goal of raising 2.4 million CHF ($2.4 million US dollars) to reach up to 1 million people. Moreover, some societies have asked the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) for additional funds for specific operations in their countries.

News stories from the region

What is the Red Cross doing?

Educating, informing, raising awareness and collaborating in activities such as cleaning, fumigation and chemical control of mosquito populations are the main lines of action being developed to address the outbreak. The International Federation is coordinating the development of outreach and awareness materials following the relevant information from recognized authorities such as the World Health Organization.

In addition to recommendations for controlling contact with the Aedes mosquito, efforts are being made to eliminate potential breeding sites for insect larvae. The aim is to turn these actions into habits and prevent future infection.

The role of volunteers is vital. National Societies in countries including Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala and Honduras have already started training their volunteers and in Argentina and El Salvador, they are conducting door-to-door visits to disseminate information and address concerns and questions that may arise about the virus.

The Red Cross is focusing on specific vulnerable groups because it has a particular impact on communities with the greatest inequality. National Societies direct their action in workplaces or schools where children are already learning how to avoid infection and to clean up their environments with the help of volunteers.


What you can do to prevent Zika

  • One a week, remove, empty, clean and cover containers that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots and trash containers.
  • Eliminate standing water in and around your home.
  • Remove rubbish as often as possible.
  • If water needs to be stored, make sure the container is fully covered to prevent mosquitoes getting into it.
  • If containers cannot be properly drained, fill them with sand and cover.
  • Keep skin covered, especially during sunrise and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.
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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies