Partner Coordination and Community Engagement are Key in Addressing Zika in Colombia

Published: 10 May 2017 18:08 CET

Bogota, Colombia. On May 2-5, the Americas Zika Response Team at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), representatives from the Colombian Red Cross, Save the Children and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) held several meetings in Colombia and visited various Community Action on Zika (CAZ) project sites.


The visit focused on project monitoring and follow-up, as well as an opportunity to ensure partner coordination on the ground. For this, USAID, Colombian Red Cross, IFRC and Save the Children representatives travelled to the Santa Marta district to participate in learning sessions with school children at the José Celedon Education Center and community prevention activities in the Barrio 19 de abril neighbourhood. The sessions focused on raising community awareness on Zika and its prevention. As part of the busy agenda, the Red Cross and its partners met with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the National Public Health Institute, local Ministry of Health authorities and Profamilia to ensure coordination with local actors.


“The Zika project in Colombia is part of a larger epidemic control strategy for the Colombian Red Cross, which is being implemented over the past 4 years together with the Ministry of Health, the National Public Health Institute, local authorities and communities. More than 2,000 volunteers are supporting the Zika response and we believe that this project will allow us to continue improving the health of our communities and reinforcing knowledge, abilities and practices in relation to vector-borne diseases.” – said Francisco Moreno, Health Director at the Colombian Red Cross.


Parallel to these activities, the Colombian Red Cross and IFRC also visited the Maguare indigenous communities in the Meta Department. The Red Cross team screened an animated video and held a conversation with the community on Zika prevention and awareness. The purpose of the activity was to test the tool and gather feedback from the community members. Some of the main outcomes included a positive response to the video and an understanding of the key messages that it conveys. Community members also expressed an interest in adding a practical component to the video screening, to better internalize the messages being shared with them.


The Colombian Red Cross has been working on Zika prevention since the beginning of the outbreak in 2016. Over the coming months, the CAZ project partners will continue to work on Zika virus prevention and awareness. This includes capacity building for staff, volunteers and communities, campaigns to raise awareness on vector control and preventative measures, as well as a pilot ovitraps program to control mosquito populations.


The goal of the CAZ project is to reduce Zika transmission and minimize the risk of Zika-related microcephaly and other neurological disorders in the most vulnerable populations. The 3-year initiative is focused on ensuring community participation in Zika response and will target over 6.8 million people in 10 departments in Colombia.


The visit is part of a series of deployments within the framework of the CAZ project. This activity has been possible thanks to the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development, and was carried out in partnership with Save the Children.


For more information, visit:


Or contact:


In Colombia: 

Jose Leber Imbachi Franco, Public Health Coordinator in Emergencies, Colombian Red Cross -  


In Panama:

Sergio Ferrero Febrel, Operation Manager – Zika Response in the Americas, IFRC –