Mobilization against microcephaly
The Federal Government is mobilized to face up to the increase in cases of microcephaly in the country. The increase in the number of cases is linked to the zika virus, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This is an unprecedented situation in the world, which reinforces the importance of eliminating breeding spots for the mosquito, which also transmits the dengue and chikungunya viruses.
In an emergency action carried out in order to control new cases of microcephaly, provide support to pregnant women and babies, and intensify the actions aimed at fighting the mosquito, the Federal Government created the National Plan for Fighting the Aedes aegypti and Microcephaly. Various ministries and government agencies are working together in partnerships with Brazilian States and municipalities. It is a fight that requires the involvement of all segments of society.
The growing number of cases of microcephaly in the country is a serious situation, which led the Ministry of Health to declare an Emergency Situation in Public Health of National Importance. Since then, the federal government has been mobilized to assess and control the situation.
National Plan for Fighting the Aedes aegypti and Microcephaly
Decrease the rate of Aedes aegypti infestation to less than 1% of Brazilian municipalities by the end of June, in order to reduce the number of cases of illnesses transmitted by the mosquito.
- Intensification of Campaign: from June 2015 to June 2016.
- Inspect all residences, public and private facilities in urban areas by February 29, 2016.
- Intensify monitoring visits for controlling the mosquito population, with visits being made every two months.
The National Plan for Fighting Microcephaly has three fronts: prevention and fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, improvements in the assistance provided to pregnant women and children, and the execution of studies and research projects in this area. Zika fever is an illness that is not well known by science. Finding out more about this virus may help us fight it.
- Mobilization and Fight against the Mosquito
- Assistance to People
- Technological Development, Education and Research
I - Mobilization and Fight against the Mosquito
The fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito is essential for controlling the microcephaly outbreak. In order to execute the actions set forth in the National Plan for Fighting Microcephaly, a National Interagency Coordination Center was set up at the National Center for the Management of Risks and Disasters (CENAD), an agency linked to the Ministry of National Integration. Offices were also set up in the 26 Brazilian States and the Federal District, with the participation of representatives from areas such as Health, Education, Public Safety (Military Police and Fire Brigade), Social Assistance, Civil Defense and the Armed Forces.
Community health agents and endemic disease fighting agents, as well as other agents, have been mobilized in order to provide orientations to the population and reinforce vector control actions in residences. In order to do so, the Federal Government has been acquiring and making available equipment for the application of insecticides and larvicides, also making sure that supplies are purchased.
In order to engage the population in the fight against the mosquito, teachers, students and families linked to the Health in School Program, linked to public/private universities and federal institutes, are being encouraged to participate in vector prevention and elimination activities. Mobilization actions are also being carried out with professionals and users of Social Assistance Reference Centers, the food safety network and Bolsa Família (Family Allowance social welfare program) beneficiaries.
At the same time, health, education, social assistance, civil defense and military personnel are being trained, as well as rehabilitation professionals, specialists in epidemiological responses and family health teams. Health professionals working at maternities are also being trained to carry out neonatal hearing tests, and the 27 State Public Health Laboratories are being trained to execute tests to identify the zika virus.
II – Assistance to People
In order to assure proper care to pregnant women and babies, the Ministry of Health developed the Protocol for Attention to Health and Response to Occurrences of Microcephaly Related to Zika Virus Infection and the Early Stimulation Guidelines: Children 0 to 3 years old with developmental delay due to microcephaly Moreover, the Ministry of Health is broadening the coverage of CT scans and providing support to the creation of regional centers for making exam appointments.
In order to treat babies suffering from this malformation, the government is expanding the reach of the Viver sem Limite (Living without Limits) plan, directed at providing care to people with disability, by implementing new rehabilitation centers. There are currently over 1,500 rehabilitation service centers in the country, 136 of which being Specialized Centers for Rehabilitation (CERs). The Ministry of Health is also providing equipment to 737 maternities so they can carry out the Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potential (BAEP) test, as well as training professionals at these units.
Primary Care professionals and all 18,240 physicians of Programa Mais Médicos (More Doctors Program) are also engaged in promotion, prevention and patient assistance actions. Over 4 million Pregnancy Cards - with essential pre-natal orientations - and 10 million quick pregnancy tests are being sent to all health units.
III – Technological Development, Education and Research
In a continuous knowledge generation action, the Federal Government is encouraging the execution of research efforts for the development of new technologies for diagnosing the zika virus and investing in studies for controlling the Aedes aegypti population through innovative techniques.
The zika virus, the behavior of the illness and its correlations are also being subjected to studies. Other topics being studied are microcephaly, other congenital malformations and the Guillain-Barré syndrome. Investments are also being made in efforts to start the development of a zika fever vaccine.
Measures that have already been adopted
The Ministry of Health also has teams trained and prepared to act in the fight against microcephaly. Technicians have already been deployed to monitor the situation in States; periodical meetings are being held with the Departments of Health of Brazilian States and municipalities, and statements are being released with orientations for health professionals and managers. Furthermore, a group of specialists was assembled to study cases, and constant exchanges of information with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are being carried out.
All the ministries involved and the Armed Forces are already taking action, reinforcing the fight against the Aedes aegypti, with the Armed Forces deploying 200,000 people. Moreover, the strengthening and improvement of information systems - comprised of notification systems, applications and news bulletins - are other actions also being executed.
Communicating with the population
As a way to mobilize society and assure that the population can have access to reliable and updated information, a Communication Plan was created. Graphic materials, such as educational brochures, posters, folders, flyers and comic books, with orientations to the population regarding the fight against the dengue fever mosquito and symptoms - in addition to specific information for pregnant women and women of reproductive age - are being distributed. A hot site - http://combateaedes.saude.gov.br/- was created with information for the population in general and pregnant women, as well as for health professionals and managers. Interventions in public spaces and stands at events addressing the illness are also scheduled to occur.
Actions in social media platforms and on-line seminars are also being developed. Communities and religious leaders are being invited to celebrate partnerships in mobilization efforts. Caravans are also being carried out in States with most cases of the disease, with the purpose of mobilizing managers, community leaders, the press and society in general to fight the Aedes aegypti.