MIAMI – In an effort to protect Latin America’s most vulnerable — specifically pregnant woman and their unborn babies — against the Zika virus, Malteser International Americas is stepping up its prevention and education efforts in Latin America.
On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus as a “public health emergency of international concern”. The Zika virus is transmitted through mosquito bites and has been linked to severe birth defects in children.
As the global humanitarian relief organization of the Order of Malta, Malteser International Americas already began implementing critical prevention efforts in La Guajira and Magdalena, two areas in northern Colombia which are among the most threatened. “Malteser International Americas is taking immediate action to prevent a crisis in Colombia, which has the potential to spread throughout the rest of Latin America and to North America,” said Ravi Tripptrap, Executive Director, Malteser International Americas.
The humanitarian organization is also strengthening its critical community-wide prevention efforts. “At the moment, we are working on preventing the spread of the virus by informing the population, and we will be providing families with prevention kits which include mosquito nets, repellent and insecticide,” said Jelena Kaifenheim, Malteser International Americas’ Latin America & Caribbean Program Manager. “The drought here has left a lot of rivers with stagnant water, which is a breeding ground for mosquitos. Fumigation on a village level is crucial.”
Malteser International Americas is urgently requesting donations to provide families — particularly those including expectant mothers — with a Zika prevention family kit consisting of:
– mosquito net (for the entire family)
– insect repellent (for adults and kids)
Tripptrap stressed that “a simple $20 donation can buy a family a Zika virus prevention kit that will help keep families and unborn children safe and healthy.”
To help prevent the spread of the Zika virus, please visit www.malteser-international.org and make a life-saving donation today.