Building community ties to tackle Zika

Published: 21 December 2016 15:24 CET

 “Zika isn’t just one person’s problem. Each of us is part of the  community, so we all need to work together to prevent the spread of the Zika virus,” said Joelys (right).


Joelys de Leon has volunteered with the Panamanian Red Cross for over 6 years. Her most recent assignment took her to Garzas de Pacora, a community facing the threat of the zika virus.


She went there to help community members address this issue through community-based activities. This is part of the Red Cross’ initiative known as the Community-based Monitoring and Surveillance Protocol, or CBMS Protocol.


The CBMS Protocol is a tool that aims at empowering communities so that they can carry out surveillance and prevent the spread of the disease. It also aims at complementing the response activities of the public authorities, local organizations -such as the Red Cross- and communities, to ensure a more effective action in preventing the spread of the Zika virus.


Developing close ties with communities is key to the success of Joelys’ work. “Long-term awareness building is what has really made a difference in our relationship with the community. After just 4 visits, we see that people are more organized, the area around their homes is cleaner and they have more knowledge about Zika,” noted Joely.