The number of cases of Zika virus continues to rise and the World Health Organization predicts that in Brazil, this could result in up to 2,500 new cases of microcephaly -- a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads which reflect abnormally small brains.
Plan International Brazil has been working directly with communities to ensure everyone has the information and resources to be able to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. This includes educational workshops, door-to-door campaigning and clean-up days to help remove items where water can collect and mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
No community action would be complete, however, without the involvement of children.
Through a workshop in Alicone, children and their caregivers have been learning all about how to eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites through workshops run by Plan International. They were taught about the importance of cleaning up rubbish and getting rid of places where pools of stagnant water can form, as well as how to look out for symptoms of the virus.
During a playful day, girls and boys from the whole community participated in a range of fun yet educational games and activities.
“The priority is to involve children in this fight. It’s important to include them in the process of stopping this disease. They can and should help their parents and caregivers to pay attention to possible breeding spots in the areas around their homes and schools,” said Dariane Silva, Plan International Brazil Social Educator.
This has been a welcome initiative for mother-of-6 Cira Santos: “This assistance really helps keep our family safe. We even try to get the neighbours to take care of possible breeding spots in their home. Our safety can only be guaranteed if everybody takes responsibility.”
In São José de Ribamar, girls and boys have been taking part in activities at one of the biggest schools in the area. From there, a group of children campaigned at the entrance to the city, holding up signs and distributing leaflets to drivers with information about the Zika virus, all under the watchful eye of the local fire department.
“My grandmother had a fever last week and the whole family got scared that it could be Dengue or Zika. We are here today trying to inform people so they can be less scared of that in the future,” said 11-year-old Taciani.
Also, a children’s theatre group presented a play to children, teachers, parents and school staff about the importance of keeping the house – and the area around it – clean to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.
“Through art we engage all our students in the fight against ZIka virus, especially the young ones. They were delighted with the play. They had fun!” said educational facilitator Maria Santos.
Plan International is targeting 2 million people in Latin America through the organisation’s response to the Zika virus over an initial period of 6 months.
Plan International’s strategic response to the Zika virus outbreak focuses on 4 key areas: sexual reproductive rights and health, personal protection measures and support for priority groups, mosquito control and elimination, and risk communication and social mobilisation.