Psychosocial Support Training Is an Essential Component in Zika Response

Published: 30 June 2017 1:00 CET

San Salvador, El Salvador. On June 15-18, 2017, 21 participants, among them Red Cross and Save the Children staff and Red Cross volunteers, received certification in Psychosocial Support in Emergencies, with a special focus on Zika Response.


The Salvadorian Red Cross (SRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Reference Centre for Institutional Disaster Preparedness (CREPD) led the workshop, in partnership with Save the Children, and thanks to the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


The workshop focuses on preparing response teams to evaluate, design, implement and monitor psychosocial support activities before, during and after a disaster. The training is made up of 5 modules and includes topics such as dealing with stress, crises and loss, psychological first aid and effective communication, community work in psychosocial support, and mental health care and self-care.


“This workshops gives me a more integral perspective on Zika response. In addition to being able to teach those affected about prevention, behavioural change and eliminating vectors, I can now also provide psychosocial support to a pregnant woman diagnosed with Zika, or one whose child is born with microcephaly. These are very difficult, painful and stressful situations for the mother, the father, their family and the community. But now I feel that I can take on a different approach and provide timely, veritable and effective support to those affected.” – said Alicia de Rauda, a workshop participant and one of the technical staff within the CAZ project.


When it comes to Zika response, the area of psychosocial support is an essential component, particularly due to the complications associated with the Zika virus.


The potential neurological effects of the virus, including Zika-related microcephaly and other congenital syndromes in new-borns, and the Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults can cause stress, feelings of loss or fear and stigma in individuals, families and communities. Through targeted support activities, responders can alleviate the psychosocial effects of the virus and prevent discrimination and fear among the affected populations, especially pregnant women and mothers of children born with Zika-related complications.


The workshop is part of a series of trainings within the framework of the Community Action on Zika (CAZ) project and will also be implemented in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua in July and August. 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:


Salvadorian Red Cross

Roberto Díaz Crespín, CAZ Project Coordinator, Salvadorian Red Cross



Jose Edgardo Barahona, CREPD Coordinator -  



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