The Zika virus, which has already infected 1.65 million people in Latin America, spreads to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. If infected, a pregnant woman can also spread the virus to her fetus, causing a severe birth defect or congenital disability, called microcephaly. While the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control are working on a vaccine for the virus, US advisors are working to develop a plan to control the mosquito population and prevent locals, and themselves, from getting a mosquito-borne virus such as Zika.
In Turbo, where 250 cases of Zika have already been reported, doctors work hard to educate locals about prevention techniques, but they worry that at the peak of the mosquito breeding season, hundreds of locals, members of the Colombian Navy, and US advisors could be infected. SoA responded immediately, and I flew to Colombia to meet with the Special Operations and Civil Affairs team living and working in the area to discuss their needs and talk with the locals. We met with the Ministry of Health, the Pan American Hospital, and the Colombian Naval Forces: they were in immediate need of a fumigation to spray for at least 700 homes, and mosquito nets to prevent further bites.
Zika is not the only problem in the region. Because of Turbo’s proximity to Panama and Central America, it serves as a hub for criminal organizations to traffic humans and illegal materials through the porous border and waterways. Over the past 50 years, these criminal groups have been waging a war on the Colombian government and thousands of lives have been lost as a result. At a crucial time like this, US advisors need as much help as they can get to support their security partners and expand the government presence.
With your help, we were able to fumigate 700 homes. Your generous donations helped US partners build credibility within the community by offering support at a very crucial time. The fumigation spray in Turbo significantly improved the health, welfare, and quality of life for the people of this area, including future mothers and their babies. See the video below for footage of the fumigation.
Project Manager – Latin America