The objective of this regional appeal is to ensure effective and efficient response and preparedness to contribute to halt the chain of transmission of Zika virus disease in the affected and at risk countries, and to provide regional coordination and information management in the Americas region. On 1 February 2016, the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. The current Zika Virus (ZIKV) outbreak in the Americas is unprecedented in terms of the number of cases. Up to 1 February 2016, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that 24 countries and territories in the Americas have confirmed autochthonous circulation of Zika virus: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
The main line of action, based on the strategy on vector control and hygiene promotion, will focus on the cleaning of housing and communities. In addition, local level actions will be complemented with promotion and dissemination of health messages so people are able to identify symptoms related to the disease and seek medical assistance at health care centres.
Based on the information available from National Societies and PAHO, this appeal will aim to reach 200,000 people through direct intervention, and 1 million people indirectly through community engagement. The target vulnerable groups most at risk at this moment are young women in reproductive age and pregnant women living in areas with poor sanitation in rural and urban contexts. Although pregnant women have the same risk as the rest of the population of being infected with Zika virus, according to a preliminary analysis of research carried out by Brazilian authorities, the greatest risk of microcephaly and malformations appears to be associated with infection during the first trimester of pregnancy.