The Commitment of Jennifer Diaz to her Community

Published: 9 October 2016 1:42 CET

Jennifer Diaz Lopez spent most of her pregnancy working as a Colombian Red Cross (CRC) volunteer in the communities of her home district of Valledupar. This was remarkable not because she worked while she was pregnant, but because her volunteer work consisted on disseminating Zika protection messages among pregnant women and giving psychosocial support to mothers who had lost their babies due to microcephaly, one of the main complications of Zika virus congenital transmission. 

Jennifer, who has already given birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl named Lucía, is still wondering how she could find the courage to expose herself day after day to something as unpredictable as a bite from an infected Aedes mosquito. She followed every self-protection measure which probably reduced the possibilities of getting the virus: using repellent, wearing pants and long-sleeve shirts and sleeping under a mosquito net. She still remembers, though, the sorrow she shared with a mother she accompanied after losing her baby. “At the time, I was bringing key messages to pregnant women on how important it is to prevent Zika virus infection”, she says. “I am proud of myself for having had the strength to keep working on preventing this disease that has caused so many complications in babies”, she argues in a voice choked with emotion.

The CRC has provided Zika virus awareness information to more than 700 pregnant women and more than 6,600 women of childbearing age thanks to persons like Jennifer, who concentrate their efforts to help other women and commit to those who have been less fortunate than her, challenging herself to do a greater good and follow her volunteer principles.

In response to the international appeal of the Zika Operation in the Americas, the CRC has been providing key and customized information on how to develop vector control actions, prevention activities and community initiatives aimed at the most vulnerable. Through the Municipal Health Department, the CRC Cesar Sectional has been controlling the main sources of Zika virus infection week after week, helping to control the outbreak and reaching almost 90 per cent of its target population through education, information and communication campaigns.