Advocacy & Health Policy: ACOG'S Office of Global Women's Health Signs on with USAID ASSIST to Provide Zika Support in Latin America

Since the first report of the Zika virus was noted in 2015 in Brazil, 47 countries and territories in the Americas have confirmed autochthonous, vector-borne transmission of Zika. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus first identified in Uganda in 1947, and was identified in humans in 1952. Since then, there have been reported outbreaks in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas.

In an effort to strengthen the capacity of health services for the prevention and management of Zika, ACOG’s Office of Global Women’s Health (OGWH) signed on to the USAID ASSIST (Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems) Project, which provides technical support services to Zika-related activities in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The USAID ASSIST Project was formed to strengthen the capacity of Zika-related health services to deliver consistent, evidence-based, respectful, person-centered quality care with a focus on pregnant women, newborns, and women of reproductive age.

ACOG will provide technical support services to the Zika-related activities implemented by the ASSIST project in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In order to strengthen the capacity of health services to provide evidence-based interventions for the prevention and management of Zika infections, especially aimed at women in reproductive age, pregnant women, deliveries, and newborns.

OGWH’s role is to strengthen the capacity of health services to provide evidence-based interventions for the prevention and management of Zika infections, especially aimed at women of reproductive age, pregnant women, deliveries, and newborns.

As part of the ongoing activities in support of the ASSIST program, OGWH held a webinar on Zika and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). The well-received webinar was held on February 7, 2017, and ACOG Fellow Diana E. Ramos, MD, MPH, gave the presentation.

Dr. Ramos is the Director for Reproductive Health, Los Angeles Country Public Health Department and adjunct assistant clinical professor at the Keck University of Southern California School of Medicine. She is also the Zika spokesperson for the National Hispanic Medical Association and the March of Dimes.

Dr. Ramos presented on “The use of LARC during family planning in the context of Zika.” There were over 200 registered to participate, and 165 attended the webinar.

OGWH also coordinated with the Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics of El Salvador (Sociedad de Ginecología y Obstetricia de El Salvador) to hire eight tutors, three of which are ACOG Fellows, to provide virtual tutoring for an extended e-learning module.

There have been 255 health care provider participants, with each tutor assigned to a group of 28-32 students. The tutors are available for two hours a night, five days a week, and provide support and tutoring for students taking the e-learning modules.

Each course runs for four weeks and is taught in Spanish. The first course was a “Basic Virtual Course on Zika for Healthcare Providers.”

ASSIST is working to create a Zika summit and scientific conference to be held in the Dominican Republic. Although the date has not yet been confirmed, OGWH plans on participating by delivering a scientific presentation during the conference.

Another conference will be held March 22 in San Salvador, El Salvador, where OGWH will be presenting. 

To learn more, visit the USAID ASSIST Project website

You can also visit ACOG's OGWH webpage and the Zika webpage to learn more about ACOG's guidance and information on the Zika virus. 

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
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