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11-03-2016 | Latest News , Americas

Zika virus - Prevention and best practice


Video 1: Zika virus: Red Cross launches global appeal to respond to global threat. Red Cross activities part 1

Video 2: Zika virus: Red Cross launches global appeal to respond to global threat. Red Cross activities part 2


Panama/Geneva, 8 March 2016: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a global appeal for 9.3 million Swiss francs (8.4 million euros) to combat the Zika virus outbreak.

While primarily focused on bolstering community-level response in the Americas, the appeal will also support the implementation of preparedness measures and activities in Africa, Asia Pacific, Middle East North Africa and Europe, coordinated by a Zika cell based in Geneva.

The appeal will enable National Red Cross Societies in the affected countries to support one million people for 12 months in ten priority intervention areas including health emergency risk management, preparedness, vector control, community based surveillance, community engagement and psychosocial support.

“The IFRC is stepping up its community-based action to stop this outbreak spreading further, and protect the lives and livelihoods of people across the Americas,” said Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas.

Dr Julie Lyn Hall, IFRC Director of Health, said: “Through this global appeal, the IFRC can make a real difference with our millions of dedicated volunteers and our decades-long experience of preventing and responding to vector-borne diseases such as dengue and chikungunya.

“Learning from recent health emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak, this global appeal will allow us to be more flexible to anticipate and respond to the needs wherever they appear. It is likely that the virus will spread to other countries and could make its way to other continents. While we are responding to the current emergency in the Americas, we are also getting prepared globally,” she added.

The Zika virus – which is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that is also responsible for spreading dengue and chikungunya – affects all segments of society but has particular impact on the poorest and most vulnerable people. The current Zika virus outbreak is alarming due to the high number of cases, the rapid spread of disease, and its potential association with an increase in the birth of babies with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. The virus is present in 24 countries and territories in the Americas.

“If we don’t want Zika to spread further, we need to act now,” said Mr Cotte. “The number of cases of dengue rose from 15,000 in the 1960s to more than 360 million today and this must not be allowed to happen with Zika. In addition to the health threat, vector borne diseases such as Zika or dengue have a huge economic impact on the countries affected.”

Note to editors

In February, the IFRC allocated 200,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support initial Zika virus response activities, and launched an Americas regional appeal for 2.4 million Swiss francs.

The global appeal is supported and complemented by country and regional Plans of Action. The planned response reflects the current situation and the available information, and will be adjusted as required based on further developments and assessments.

Zika virus disease is named after the Zika forest in Uganda, where it was discovered in 1947 – first in a monkey, and then in the Aedes mosquito the following year. The first human case was recorded in Nigeria in 1952. South America reported its first cases of Zika in 2015. There are two strains of the virus – the African lineage, which emerged from Uganda, and the Asian lineage that is spreading in the Americas and the Pacific.

To encourage partnership approaches to reducing vulnerability, the IFRC has launched the One Billion Coalition for Resilience - an initiative bringing together aid organizations, Governments, the private sector, academia and community groups to encourage one billion people to reduce their vulnerability to natural and other hazards by 2025.

For further information, please contact:

Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, team leader, public communications and outreach
Tel: +41 79 213 24 13 - Email:

Diana Medina, Communication Manager, Americas region
Tel: +507 6780-5395 - Email:



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