Start Network and Plan UK launch Zika preparedness project in Guinea-Bissau
The Start Network and Plan UK have launched a new project in Guinea-Bissau to work with and support local communities in preparing for potential outbreaks of the Zika virus.
The project follows confirmation of Guinea-Bissau’s first three cases of Zika, first reported in July (Reuters) and an assessment of the country’s high vulnerability to the virus (Guinea-Bissau was found to be the second most vulnerable in the World Health Organisation’s ranking of high risk countries). Following this confirmation, Plan’s needs assessment has revealed crucial gaps in the local capacities, resources and systems to deal with an outbreak.
The project will address these gaps by raising awareness among the local population of the risks related to the Zika virus, and by promoting practices to prevent mosquito breeding. It will also increase the awareness of the local communities on sexual and reproductive health and the importance of contraception to protect women and girls of reproductive age. There is no access to safe abortion services or emergency contraception in Guinea- Bissau, so the project will provide accurate information, counselling support, and contraception to avoid unintended pregnancies.
Plan will also work with beneficiaries, community leaders and local and national authorities to build the capacity and resources around limiting the spread of the virus by mosquitos, and to support the strengthening of sexual and reproductive health services.
The project builds on the work of the Start Network’s West Africa Ebola Preparedness Programme, which worked to prepare local communities for potential outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious diseases in Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal and the Ivory Coast.
The project, funded by UK aid, will run in Bafatá, Gabú and Cacheu regions until February 2017.