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Protecting against Zika and vector-borne diseases

The people of Malteser International’s project regions La Guajira and Magdalena in northern Colombia are extremely vulnerable to vector-borne diseases like Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya. Long droughts have made life difficult for people living in the region, but have created a prime habitat for the mosquitos that carry Zika and other diseases – reducing rivers and waterways to standing pools. Meanwhile, almost 59 percent of the population suffers from malnutrition, and only around one in seven are able to access basic medical care. This care is itself severely limited by a massive lack of equipment and infrastructure. The region is among those most severely affected by the Zika virus, which became a global health emergency in 2016, and that increases the risk of severe developmental abnormalities in unborn children.

It is possible to take a range of very simple but highly effective measures to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. However, as the most recent Zika outbreak illustrated, knowledge and capacity to treat and prevent infectious diseases is extremely limited in the region. Prevention measures on a local and community level were very limited, while there was a severe lack of access to appropriate treatment, which most health facilities lacking the means to treat even the most basic of symptoms.

Increase local preparedness and capacity for the treatment of vector-borne diseases

  • Expansion and monitoring of the Malteser Colombia and Order of Malta Colombia Social Health Program in La Guajira and Magdalena
  • Provision of 10 health agents on the community level to train the population in preventing the spread of disease
  • Mapping of the spread of vector-based diseases
  • Public meetings (with indigenous groups), training, and information campaigns, and the distribution of information material

Country info

Capital: Bogota
Area: 1,138 km²
Population: 47.9 Million

Project data

Project duration: July 2016 - June 2017
Donors: Global Fund for Forgotten People
Partner: Malteser Colombia, Colombian Association of the Order of Malta

Last updated: July 2016

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